Line dancing group keeps seniors moving

By Ken Kellar
Staff writer

If you’re a senior looking for an excuse to get moving, Friday mornings might be exactly what you’re looking for.

Currently dancing their cares away in the parking lot at the Fort Frances Public Library Technology Centre, a group of seniors have been learning and practicing line dancing with instructor Carol Jorgenson. Traditionally operating out of the Fort Frances Seniors Centre, the group has been a bit more mobile of late as they’ve bounced around to a few different locations due to the pandemic.

“At the Seniors Centre we were going Tuesday evenings, but then COVID happened,” Jorgenson said.

“Then we went to the East end hall, because we couldn’t go to the Senior’s Centre. They couldn’t open the Senior Centre again, so then I asked the town if we could maybe go to the area? And they said no, but we could go to the East End hall, because there was also a bounce class going on there.”

Moving to the East End Hall changed the time of the practice from Tuesday evening to Friday morning, and once the weather turned nice enough, the group brought practices outside. At some point in the future, once COVID restrictions have lifted enough, it’s likely they will return to the Senior’s Centre to resume line dancing indoors.

Jorgenson herself has been line dancing for about 25 years, she said, so she has plenty of experience to lead the dancers and show them the moves they need for any particular routine.

“I started here with Lauris Wierenko, I think was her name,”

“She was a teacher, I think at Robert Moore, when I first started. And then we went to St. Mary’s Basement, and then we were in Emo at the Legion, then at our Legion. We’ve been all over the place.”

Jorgenson has also been active in line dancing in Arizona and International Falls, when she is able to cross the border.

This particular group of line dancing aficionados have been learning together for roughly five years, according to the members. Generally, Jorgenson will let the dancers know which song they will be dancing to next, as well as what steps or patterns that song will use. Jorgenson will also go over any particularly tricky passages so that less experienced dancers, or those who might have forgotten the move, can follow along and refresh their memories. Once the song has begun, the dancing is in full swing, with the dancers repeating their line of dances in a square-like fashion. The constant practice and repetition of the line dancing moves has led to noticeable improvement within the group.

“When we first started at the Seniors Centre, it was all pretty much beginners,” Jorgenson said.

“But we’ve advanced quite well.”

Make no mistake, though; line dancing and square dancing are two separate things. While both can be considered country dances, line dances are memorized choreography. Meanwhile, square dancing usually has a caller, someone who lets gives the dancers instructions as the song goes on, though those instructions usually still rely on learned choreography. There are other differences between the two, but both types of dance have long been popular throughout the district, which could lead to confusion among the uninitiated.

The line dancing is also generally low-impact, making it perfect exercise for a wide range of individuals.While the group is currently only women, Jorgenson said it is open to all seniors, though she has seen a particular trend within this group.

“Men hate dancing,” she said. “I’ve had a couple start out with me but then they give up.”

Men, consider that a line-dancing challenge, if you dare.