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Brookhaven boogie: Senior citizens enjoy line dancing, fellowship

April Garon / The line dancers dancing at the Jimmy Furlow Senior Citizens Center.

April Garon / The line dancers dancing at the Jimmy Furlow Senior Citizens Center.

When Darlene Coleman went into her first line dancing class, she wasn’t sure what to expect.

“I thought at first maybe I was a little bit too young,” Coleman said. “When I came down here, I thought ‘Oh!’ ‘These people are my age!’ There are so many different ages here. You don’t worry about that, you just worry about acting with everybody else and doing your thing.”

The line dancing class Coleman attends is held at the Jimmy Furlow Senior Citizen Center in downtown Brookhaven. Line dancing is offered twice a week on Monday and Wednesday mornings at the center. Participants said that line dancing has been an uplifting activity for them physically, mentally and spiritually.

Sharon Langley, who has taught line dancing for more than 12 years, started the classes at the center four years ago. She also heads up the Good Time line dancers at the King’s Daughters Fitness Center.

Katherine Crump smiles while dancing.

Katherine Crump smiles while dancing.

“I saw [the senior citizen center] was offering a line dance class, and I went to check it out, and it wound up that they didn’t have an instructor, so I volunteered to be a teacher there too,” Langley said. “We make wonderful friends, we have fun, and we don’t take it too seriously.”

The Camellia line dancers, as they call themselves, dance to a variety of musical styles according to Langley.

“Line dancing doesn’t have to be done to country music at all, the steps can be adapted,” Langley said.

The Camellia line dancers have performed at civic functions, the center’s Senior Prom and area nursing homes; including Haven Hall, Golden Living, Country Brook, Silver Cross and more. Dancer Helen Griffin said she uses the performances at nursing homes as a ministry, which is a common thread uniting the dancers together.

Dancers move to the beat during line dancing class at the Jimmy Furlow Senior Citizen Center. The center offers classes in line dancing for beginners and adults.

Dancers move to the beat during line dancing class at the Jimmy Furlow Senior Citizen Center. The center offers classes in line dancing for beginners and adults.

“I use it as a ministry,” dancer Helen Griffin said. “They are always so glad to see you, you always get a smile and they want to shake your hands. They will hug us and tell us to come back.”

Line dancers in the class say have they have become very close and look forward to the camaraderie and fellowship each week.

“We are ladies of different cultures, different churches, it is more like a community thing,” Griffin said. “I might not see them until Monday, but when I saw them on Monday I was glad to see them. It’s a part of fellowship and closeness of the ladies we have felt.  I didn’t know a lot of these ladies, and I’ve gained friends, I  know I’m close to the oldest one here and I don’t t feel out of place.  It’s been really great, it’s a good feeling.”

Jackie Abrams does sign language while line dancing to the song "God is Good." The line dancers say "Good is good, all the time", the lyrics of the song, in sign language while they dance.

Jackie Abrams does sign language while line dancing to the song “God is Good.” The line dancers say “Good is good, all the time”, the lyrics of the song, in sign language while they dance.

Griffin also said that they group was a big help for her after her husband died.

“During the time I lost my husband this group really worked for me,” Griffin said. “I love to dance and line dancing was new, before we’ve always had partners to do dance, but then I didn’t have to have a partner. We don’t have to have partners because we are line dancing, so I feel like I’m not left out.  You can dance by yourself and not feel funny.”

Langley said she tries to make the classes a full workout with balance, breathing and stretching techniques.

“With line dance, you’ve got to think, pay attention, focus, and you must be moving and react. I do stress balancing in the classes to help keep our bones healthy and prevent falls.”

Carolyn Reed has been coming to the center since it opened and says the line dancing classes inspire her.

“At my age, I thought it was all over, but I found out that I’m good to go a few more years if I keep this up,” Reed said. “I’m moving muscles I hadn’t moved in a while and it has helped me physically and mentally.”

Line dancing classes are held at the Jimmy Furlow Senior Citizen Center on Mondays at 9 a.m. (Advanced Line Dancing) and Wednesdays at 10 a.m. (Beginner’s Line Dancing). There is no fee to participate. For more information, call 601-835-5076.