Shine up your dancing shoes: Line dancing returns to Houlton Rec

6 years ago

HOULTON, Maine — Dancing may not be quite the fad as it once was in the 1970s and 80s, but that has not deterred a group of energetic adults from southern Aroostook County from having a ball.

Participating in a line dance class once a week at the Gentle Memorial  Building in Houlton, a group of about 25 adults is rediscovering just how much fun, and good exercise, dance can be.

Starting in late November, Tim “the Tuneman” Humphrey of Hodgdon has hosted a line dance class at the Rec Center each Tuesday at 6 p.m.

Humphrey explained he was looking for a way to make a little bit of extra money, and his wife Dorene suggested he give line-dancing a twirl. The couple had participated in a line dancing class in Woodstock, New Brunswick, and felt they would like to offer it in Houlton.

Humphrey already had all the necessary sound equipment as he works as a DJ for weddings and events.

“Plus, she also told me I was an OK dancer,” he said with a laugh.

With that in mind, Humphrey said he approached Houlton Parks and Recreation Director Marie Carmichael about hosting a line dance class at the Rec Center back in November. It has proven to be a popular addition for adults this winter.

“It is very nice to have line dancing back here at the Rec,” she said. “It has been many, many years since a class was held. We love having Tim here to do it. I think it’s a win-win for everybody.”

Humphrey rents out the gym space at the Gentle Memorial Building and charges his dancers just $5 each for the one-hour session.

Line dance is a choreographed dance with a repeated sequence of steps in which a group of people dance in one or more lines or rows, all facing in the same direction, and executing the steps at the same time. It can be performed to either country or pop music.

Humphrey admitted he was “learning on the fly” when it comes to teaching others the correct dance steps. But his many years of DJing weddings has come in handy. Plus he performed in numerous bands in his younger days, when dancing in clubs was the popular thing to do.

“Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect,” he said of the first class. “I didn’t know if I would be able to get five people to show up. But as it turns out, folks seemed to be looking for something like this to do in the winter.”

Beverly Kirk of Houlton dances her way through a routine Jan. 9 at the Houlton Recreation Department as part of a new line dance class. (Joseph Cyr)

Wanda Parks of Houlton is one of those individuals who was looking for a winter activity. She has been to about six classes so far, and even convinced her husband, Mike, to give it a try. Many years ago, the two enjoyed country dancing at a Houlton establishment called “Nashville of the North.”

“I really wanted to get out of the house and get some exercise, so this class was perfect,” Parks said. “Tim is a great teacher and makes sure we know what we are doing with each dance. It’s so much fun.”

Beverly Kirk of Houlton said she has enjoyed dancing her entire life and was so excited to learn the class was being offered.

“I have danced since I was little, but the reason I started this is because I am getting older and thought it would help me with my balance,” Kirk said. “I always wanted to do line dancing. Plus it’s good exercise. I just turned 70 so if I can do it, anybody can.”

Kirk added that one of the participants wore a “fitbit” to a recent class and the group learned they do about 3,000 steps during the course of the one-hour class.

Pam Mailman of Houlton said she heard about the class from her sisters and the trio decided to give it a try. “I love to dance, and it’s really good exercise for this time of year,” she said. “It’s been great.”

Her sister, Karen Gallop, added she wished the class was longer because it reminds her of her youth.

“Mom and dad always liked to dance,” Gallop said. “When I was little, dad would put me on top of his shoes and dance me around the house. So we’ve always been dancing.”