It’s a Wednesday night in downtown Alice Springs and the Red Hot Arts Centre is humming with the sound of boot-tapping, knee-slapping and yeehaw-ing.
A group of women aged from their mid-twenties to their early eighties have gathered for a weekly ritual. They’re all here for the same reason: to get their blood pumping, boots scooting, endorphins rushing and hearts singing.
What exercise could possibly do all of the above? Line dancing.
Bev, 80, has been attending the local line dancing class since its inception two years ago. “It’s just so much fun,” she tells me in between songs.
As I tried to keep up with Bev’s impeccable footwork, here are eight thoughts I had during my first line dancing class…
REASON #1 WHY LINE DANCING IS THE VERY BEST WORKOUT
It truly is a workout. At my introduction to the sport, each dance started with the instructor walking us through the routine and practicing it a few times in slow motion. Then the music started, and it was game on. The moves were quick, and it took a truckload of effort and concentration to keep up. After four minutes of non-stop Nutbush-ing and hip-popping, I’d worked up a decent sweat and was ready for a quick water break.
The class was overflowing with an energy of encouragement. After each song – regardless of how successful the dancing was – everyone gave a round of applause. Mistakes were met with laughter and happened to everyone – even the instructor! In between routines, the more experienced boot-scooters offered up advice and words of praise to me, the beginner. Hot tip: take small steps when you’re starting out, so your transitions are quicker.
The music! Even if you’re not a country fan, it’s been scientifically proven* that it’s physically impossible to stay still when a Troy Cassar-Daley banger comes on. (*Scientific study conducted by me at the pub’s jukebox).
Line dancing is a sport for all. In my beginner’s class, there were women of all ages, physical abilities and fitness levels, and we all gave it a red-hot crack. The instructor laughed as she reminded everyone of the class she taught a year ago when she was heavily pregnant with her daughter, bouncing her belly to the beat.
My absolute favourite part of the class was the impromptu yeehaws. When someone nailed a move, enjoyed a turn or felt the beat kick in, they would let out an almighty exclamation, much to the joy of everyone else. I was too focused on trying not to trip to give it a go myself, but you better believe I’ll be letting out a yeehaw next time.
The health benefits of line dancing go beyond just getting your heart rate up. It’s also a great way to improve your balance and coordination. And the social aspect is so important for mental health. We all know that we need to stay active to keep healthy, but finding the motivation to do so can be easier said than done. With line dancing, exercising doesn’t feel like a chore or a punishment, it’s a delight.
Confession: I may or may not have signed up for class purely to test out my new R.M. Williams boots. Regardless, you’ll be pleased to know my boots passed the test with flying colours and I’m looking in to getting one of the ‘Red Hot Line Dancers’ cowgirl shirts to complete the look. The line dancing dress code is simple and casual: wear enclosed shoes and bring a drink bottle. Akubra hats are optional.
What Bev said. It’s so much fun! I left the class with a buzz of endorphins, a sore face from smiling all night and a promise to return next week. Giddy up.