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BARGAINS / GERI COOK

Learning to Stay in Step : Bill and Sally Rinaldi offer all levels of country-Western dance instruction. Six one-hour lessons cost $39.

August 06, 1993|GERI COOK

Country-Western dancing is sweeping the country, and you say you don't know how to do it?

Back in 1982, Bill Rinaldi didn't know how either, but after he enrolled in a Western dance class at the Department of Recreation and Parks in Redondo Beach, his life changed considerably.

Bill says he wasn't a star pupil by any means--"I spent a year in the beginner's class"--but he was a tenacious one. He was there so long, he eventually met Sally, who soon became his bride and, about four years later, they started teaching their first class for eight of their friends. Today, Bill and Sally's Country-Western Dance Academy is the largest school devoted to country-Western dancing in the United States.

Bill believes that one of the reasons for their success goes back to his being a very slow student. "I know how discouraged you can get when it doesn't come to you immediately. You learn a lot more, somehow, when you're a slow learner."

The courses he and Sally offer cover all levels, from beginner to advanced. Each course is independent, so students may enter at any level of skill at the start of any semester, and may choose to remain at any level for more than one semester. Classes can contain from 50 to 200 students.

A series of six one-hour lessons is $39, which breaks down to $6.50 a lesson. The instructors use wireless microphones, and advanced technology sound systems allow you to clearly hear the instructor and the music. Most classes provide two instructors, one to teach the entire class, and the second to provide individual instruction and personal tips.

The ratio of men to women in these classes is balanced by a computerized registration system. In addition, everyone frequently changes partners, so you do not need to bring your own, not even for the Texas two-step classes.

Bill and Sally teach Thursday night in Playa del Rey, where I attended their class. About 30 couples, ranging in age from 25 to 65, were on their fourth lesson of the beginning two-step class. With Bill's good-natured instructions, backed up with individual help from Sally, the students learned fast and, by the end of the one-hour class, progress was apparent.

A few dancers were dressed in Western attire, but mostly it was jeans and T's, some with boots, some not. Unlike in square dancing, where the attire is so important, the dress code for country-Western dancing seems more relaxed.

The schedule is the same in all locations: 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., beginning two-step; 7:30 to 8:30 p.m., beginning line dance; 8:30 to 9:30 p.m., intermediate and advanced two-step.

Monday

* VFW, 1822 W. 162nd St., Gardena.

* Glendale Civic Auditorium, 1401 N. Verdugo Road.

Tuesday

* Ebell Club, 313 Laguna Road, Fullerton.

Wednesday

* American Legion Hall, 3252 Florista St., Los Alamitos.

* Women's Club, 424 N. Glendora Ave., Glendora.

Thursday

* Elks Lodge, 8025 Manchester Ave., Playa del Rey.

The fall semester begins Sept. 13. Bill says the classes fill up fast, with about 1,000 registrations in one week.

Maybe it won't be long before Tush Push, Copperhead Road, Cotton-Eyed Joe and Boot Scootin' Stomp are a regular part of your vocabulary--and your repertoire.

Where and When What: Bill & Sally's Country-Western Dance Academy, Suite 508, 3870 Del Amo Blvd., Torrance 90503. Days: Mondays through Thursdays. Hours: 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., beginning two-step; 7:30 to 8:30 p.m., beginning line dance; 8:30 to 9:30 p.m., intermediate and advanced two-step. Price: Six one-hour lessons, $39. Call: (310) 370-3344.

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