Country dancers kick up their heels at VFW

December 08, 1997|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

With the closing of two country dancing nightclubs in as many weeks, Robert Marcus and Betsy Singer thought they would have to find another form of exercise.

"None of us want to be sedentary," said Marcus of Columbia, who has been country dancing for five years. "Most of us are in our 40s or 50s, and we don't want to sit around and eat for three hours."

The couple resumed their exercise regimen Thursday when Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7472 opened the doors of its Ellicott City hall to about 80 foot-stomping, heel-kicking country dancers.

Said Singer, a Bethesda resident who is Marcus' dancing partner: "This was the best way to burn off calories."

Country dancing combines line dancing with a circle of couples dancing the waltz or other two-step moves.

The new site has been welcomed by area enthusiasts who hung up their boots when LaTela's, a country dancing club in Jessup, locked its doors Nov. 29. The next night was the last for another club, Country Junction, in Rockville.

The Country Junction closing was a complete surprise, local dancers say. But LaTela's had informed its customers several weeks ago that it could not afford to keep the club open.

Louise Fooks of Ellicott City said a manager at LaTela's had told her that not enough people were buying drinks from the bar, a key ingredient to a nightclub's financial success.

"But if you're going to country dance, you can't drink excessively else you forget your steps," Fooks said.

Others pointed out that LaTela's only charged $3 for admission. Marcus delivered a petition of 106 names to the nightclub manager that supported doubling the cover charge if the club would remain open.

"You pay seven dollars to go to a movie, and most of them are blah," Marcus said. "We were willing to pay more."

VFW commander Tom Hobbs said Roger "T" Tillman, a choreographer and dance instructor who emceed some nights at LaTela's, approached VFW officials, who initially had reservations about providing a country dancing site.

"The last time we had something like this, it didn't go so well," Hobbs recalled.

Country dancers such as Vicki and Dennis Sadler of Crofton said they appreciate the VFW's gesture.

"This is great," Vicki Sadler said. "I can't imagine giving this up. We'll go wherever country dancing goes."

Country dancing at the VFW hall runs from 7: 30 to 11 p.m. Thursdays except the second Thursday of the month. The dance area is smoke-free, and young dancers are welcome. Information: 410-465-4240.

Pub Date: 12/08/97

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