Saturday is National Dance Day, and the second annual celebration may have found an unlikely poster boy: Larry King. The former CNN host, a survivor of heart disease and founder of the Larry King Cardiac Foundation, has partnered with Nigel Lythgoe of "So You Think You Can Dance" to launch Dance 4 Your Life!, a national campaign to promote heart health through dance. Though King once struggled through a dance lesson from Janet Jackson on "Larry King Live," he's a dance aficionado with some serious moves of his own. ("That CNN career got in his way," says his son Larry King Jr., who is president of the Cardiac Foundation.) King declined an invitation to appear on "Dancing With the Stars," but he's still got his eye on Broadway.
Why dancing as a health campaign?
Exercise is so good for the treatment and care of the heart, but a lot of people don't want to exercise. They don't want to get on the treadmill, they don't want to walk down the street. But they like to dance, and today's kind of dancing is really excellent exercise. So it serves a dual purpose: It's bringing you enjoyment; at the same time it's vastly helping your cardiovascular system.
What role does dance play in your life?
I love to dance, but my dancing is of the old-fashioned type. I like the Lindy Hop. I was a good Lindy dancer in my day. The Lindy is one of the great exercise dances of all time. A lot of hopping, a lot of moving, a lot of jumping — it's entertaining and healthful.
How often do you dance?
Whenever I get a chance to — I'm 77 now, so I don't get out that much — but whenever I go out, I love to dance. To me it's a great way to promote an entertaining form of health, which I think is one of the concepts that people are really looking for.
If it wasn't for the CNN gig, would you have been a song and dance man?
I like to sing. I can do a little hoofing. I would like to do a Broadway musical. I'd like to play the part in "Chicago" of the lawyer, Billy [Flynn]. He does a little soft shoe in it. You sing, you dance, and you represent beautiful women in a law trial.
Lindy Groove at Pasadena Masonic Temple
Where: 200 S. Euclid Ave., Pasadena
When: 7:30 p.m. to midnight Thursdays
Swing and Lindy at Cicada
Where: 617 S. Olive St., downtown L.A.
When: Sundays, doors open at 6 p.m., show at 8:30
Price: $10, free with dinner
Info: (213) 488-9488; http://www.cicadanightclub.com
Big Band Friday at the Atomic Ballroom
Where: Atomic Placentia, 733 Dunn Way, Placentia; Atomic Irvine, 17961 Sky Park Circle, Suite C, Irvine
When: Fridays. In Irvine, classes begin at 7 p.m. with dancing at 8:30. In Placentia, classes begin at 6:30 p.m. with dancing at 9:15.
Note: Also, instructions for National Dance Day routines