Driving down Sam Newell Road near Crews Road, on Wednesdays, between 12:30 – 1:30 p.m., one might hear the sounds of songs like “Achy Breaky Heart,” “Electric Slide,” and “Uptown Funk” along with laughter and exclamations emanating from the Crews Recreation Center.
Here, line dancing is alive and well, thanks, in part, to a determined long-time Matthews resident, Belinda Burgess-Purcell, 68, who is the class teacher.
“It’s all about having fun and getting some exercise,” she said. “I make so many mistakes that it makes them real comfortable,” said Belinda, laughing. “I have two rules – try to go in the same direction and have fun. Just stand there and boogey. I don’t care what you do, but keep moving.”
Five years ago, Belinda approached the town to offer her services. “I don’t get many opportunities to dance anymore,” said this lifelong dance enthusiast. “We don’t go to bars, or across town to (other) line dancing… (This type of dance) reaches out to a bigger crowd. It’s good exercise without having the (expectations) of other dance classes.”
Now, five years later, the crowd continues to grow. On a recent Wednesday, twenty people, ages 40-90, attended the class. Nearly all of the participants were women. “There are more women who love to dance than men,” said Belinda. “Most of these ladies’ husbands don’t dance; it’s hard to get on the floor by yourself and dance. For people who are a little bit shy, it allows them (some anonymity),” she said.
Having struggled recently with ailments and surgeries, this is an opportunity for Belinda and the others to keep moving. “I do this because I want to do this,” she said. “The biggest thing about this class is that sometimes others get real serious about line dancing.”
“At the beginning of the class, I tell them this is for fun, this is exercise….It’s more about doing an activity,” Belinda said. “Dance affords cardio, balance, rhythm - all the things we can (focus on) as we get older. Losing our balance becomes more (prevalent). I’m trying to work in stuff (routines) that’s supposed to help.”