CANOGA PARK : Line Dancing Proves Popular With Seniors

Country-Western line dancing is no less popular in the brightly lit auditorium of the Canoga Park Senior Center than it is in smoky barrooms.

Between 20 and 40 seniors swivel, slide and cha cha across the auditorium each week for the class, one of the best attended at the center, director Louise Capone said.

Participants say line dancing is a hit with seniors, in part because the ratio of women to men in this group is high, and line dancing allows women to take to the floor without a partner.

A class Tuesday was a case in point--22 women and two men showed up. Many of the women said they were widows whose days of polkas, fox trots and waltzes are past.

"When you were married for 50 years it's not easy to get a partner again," said Jeannette Dougherty, 78. "There's 10 million others like me out there."

Minnie Goldberg, who can see but is legally blind, slid effortlessly through the steps in a pair of white boots. But country-Western isn't her preference, she said.

"I love ballroom dancing. But nobody takes me any more," she lamented, adding, "I can't even see guys. If one looks at me, there's no eye contact."

The class, offered for the first time this fall, makes use of instructional videos to walk students through the paces of the electric slide, the slap leather, the tush push and the achy breaky.

The students say they'll use the dances at various senior balls--occasions when they used to watch from the sidelines.

"I never liked being a wallflower, even when I was young," Dougherty said.

Line dancing is suited to seniors because "it's good mental exercise, and it keeps you off your tush," Goldberg said.

Christa Moeller, 67, said it should come as no surprise that most of the group seemed to pick up the dances with ease.

"Seniors are not as inhibited as young people," she said. "You are no longer worried about what people think."

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