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Boot Scootin' Seniors Learn the Lowdown on Line Dancing : A husband-and-wife teaching team has modified some of the harder dance steps to make them easier to master.


When this column first appeared back in October, a reader in Camarillo wrote to ask my help in finding a place in her neighborhood where she and fellow "boot scootin' seniors of Leisure Village" could take country-Western line dance lessons and not get tangled up on a small floor with younger people.

These 60-plus seniors described themselves as active. But many folks--regardless of age--don't cotton to dancing where it's dark, smoky or rowdy. That's why I've been pointing you to the community centers and similar venues where lots of line dance and couples classes for ages 18 and older are being offered. And if older folks prefer to stick with just their peers, many senior centers now also sponsor these classes.

"I think that a lot of the senior citizens come out for medical reasons," said Dora Lee, an instructor whose students are mostly seniors. "The aerobic exercise improves their circulation and they get to socialize."

Dora and Terry, her husband of 10 years, began teaching line dancing on a volunteer basis at the Oxnard Moose Lodge in March. And twice a month, they visit Lemonwood Mobile Home Park in Ventura, where they average about a dozen students.

The Lees have adapted some line dance moves for their older students with balance or body-support problems.

"For example, in 'Swingin,' the first dance I taught at Lemonwood, there's a grapevine step to the left with a half turn and then a hitch. That means they're putting weight back on one leg. So I taught them instead of hitching to bring the right leg down to balance on the floor so they don't get tired. And a lot of them couldn't make the half turn. So we do it a quarter and another quarter turn. I've eliminated balancing on one foot and tough pivots," Dora said.

Although frailer students needed the adaptive moves to start with, Dora said many have now gained strength and balance to do the original, more challenging steps.

She is encouraged by her students' success. But for someone who's been at it less than a year, Dora Lee is the one who deserves to feel proud.

"The first time I ever got up on the dance floor for a line dance lesson was at the Crazy Bull last February," she recalled. "I've always loved to dance. And not really having a partner--because Terry's in the chair--I still want to be on the dance floor."

Lee's husband, who has been confined to a wheelchair since a trucking accident in 1967, was in the hospital for ongoing medical problems in February. An avid country music fan since childhood, he wasn't familiar with line dancing. "While he was in the hospital, I showed him what I learned," Dora said. "Later, he went to the club with me and got very supportive.


Here's the rundown on some places where seniors can boogie to a country beat.

* Seniors are invited to a free ongoing beginning country line dance class, 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Wednesdays, at the Boys & Girls Club of South Oxnard, 200 E. Bard Road, 488-5717.

* A six-week beginning country-Western couples dance class taught by Sandi Patterson starts Monday, 4 to 4:55 p.m., at the Simi Valley Senior Citizens Center, 3900 Avenida Simi, 584-4400. $15.

* The Conejo Valley Swing Dance Party (formerly Dance Club) sponsors swing dances on the fourth Friday of each month for adults at the Goebel Senior Adult Center, 1385 E. Janss Road, Thousand Oaks, 497-1639. Swing dance lessons will be given by a professional instructor 7 to 8:30 p.m. Open dancing to deejay music 8:30 to 11:30 p.m. $8 per person. The next dance will be Jan. 28.

* Jackie Warner teaches an ongoing line dance class for senior citizens at 2 p.m. Wednesdays at the Avenue Senior Adult Center, 550 N. Ventura Ave., Ventura, 658-4747. Cost is $10 a month. Novices can start with a $10 workshop at 3 p.m. Wednesdays to learn the basic steps.

* Catch the following courses for adults age 50 and older at the Camarillo Community Center, 1605 E. Burnley St., Camarillo, 482-4881: Saturday, 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.

"Ballroom Line Dancing Survival," a seminar that incorporates popular line dances into ballroom dances using a waltz, swing, latin or fox-trot beat. Instructor: Diana Lehan; partners not required, $6.

"Boot Scootin' Again--Country Western Line Dancing," 2 to 3:30 p.m. Tuesdays, March 1 through April 12, with Dave Howells; partners not required, $14.

"Boot Scootin' Couples," 6:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays, March 2 through April 6, with Dave and Esther Howells, $25 per couple.

* TWO STEPPIN': Your guide to country entertainment is in the 11-Day Calendar section. Page 14


* WHAT: Line dance lessons with Dora and Terry Lee.

* WHERE: Moose Lodge, 1935 S. Oxnard Blvd., Oxnard, 483-0204.

* WHEN: Wednesdays, 7 to 9 p.m.

* ETC: $2 donation to defray cost of music and handout step sheets. For information on the Lees' adaptive line dancing, call 483-3583.

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