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Will the ‘Real’ Dancing Queen Please Stand Up.

by Anne Das

No matter which way you turn, line dancing continues to pop up in different venues, be it in a park, a hall or even in someone’s house party. You`ll find line dancing on the dance floors of birthday parties, school dances, social functions, and clubs. Anywhere you can find a gathering of people in the mood to dance, you will no doubt run across a choreographed line dance of some sort.

A line dance is choreographed dance from classic folk moves to the latest hip-hop grooves, line dancing will have you hooked on dance for years to come.  It has a repeated sequence of steps in which a group of people dance in one or more lines or rows, all facing the same direction, and executing the steps at the same time.

Line dancing IS for everyone. Your age, fitness level, and dancing ability are all irrelevant. Nobody cares who you are or how well you dance. All that matters is that you have a great time learning new grooves. The only catch is, memory. There are 32 steps for the easiest dances and it goes up to 64 and then to 100 over steps and beyond.

Here in Ipoh, Line Dancing is a very popular activity for senior ladies who are retired. I had the privilege to meet 76-year-old Linda Oon, ex-school teacher, baker and ‘dance guru extraordinaire’!

She has been teaching dance for more than 17 years and leads the line dancing classes for different groups. “I have class daily and only rest on Saturdays” says soft spoken Linda. I could barely even hear her. Petite, poised and nurturing, she even baked warm coconut buns and made fresh black coffee for our chat.

“Baking and preparing Baba Nyona delicacies would be my other passion. It really keeps me busy and happy.” Said Linda with a grin. Her dance groupies enjoy the benefits of not only a patient teacher but one that brings goodies for almost every dance class.

Not only is line dancing an entertaining activity, it gives one the opportunity to meet people in a fun and relaxed environment. No stuffy dinner parties with this crowd! Instead, they look forward to meeting unique groups of people who all share a passion for this intriguing type of dance.

Regardless of music taste or athletic ability, line dancing has something to offer everyone. It is a fascinating combination of exercise, choreography, socialisation, and entertaining music. Every dance is different and every dance group has their own steps.

Social engagement is important for people’s well-being, regardless of their age. Yet, it is probably most vital during a person’s senior years because older adults and the elderly are sometimes more susceptible to social isolation than younger people. Besides, it can be fun and refreshing to take advantage of social opportunities that lets you share and connect with others who are in similar situations. Along with helping you navigate all the changes that come with growing older, taking care of your social well-being provides mental and physical health benefits.

Organised social hobbies have been proven to provide a sense of purpose and give older adults something to look forward to regularly.

Speaking to 77 year old Lily Leong who comes to class with a walking stick and is an ex-instructor, who has been dancing for more than 23 years, said,“I had leg surgery and now walk with a stick.

Yet I am still here and still wanting to dance. No one judges me, I can stop and rest when I feel tired, and get up and dance when I feel good. If I were to stay home all day, I get bored and lonely. Dancing is a natural activity and it improves my muscle power, prevents me from falls, and promotes heart strength” Lily explained her diligence.

I was surprised to see the participants continue to dance for the whole hour, not only were they dancing, but moving their hands and even jumping. Most importantly every one of them was having a good time dancing in unison.

“We do not think about this as a physical activity, we just want to dance.” said the young 65 year old, Henrietta Lee. “I look younger and I feel younger and that is why I attend classes daily except on Saturdays. The people that come to the dance classes are still active and attend every week not only for physical activity but also for much-needed social interaction.

This gives the ladies a chance to look their best, to use cosmetics and take care of their bodies. They meet friends or new people, they dance, they sing and they laugh. These playful and spontaneous activities are crucial to living a healthy life and gives them a reason to be happy.

Coming together every week, sometimes 4 times a week has become something Henrietta looks forward to. Having just returned to Ipoh after years of teaching in Brunei, she was lonely and did not know anyone. “I met Linda 3 years ago and was at first a little hesitant to join the group. But I have no regrets. I was so depressed in my initial weeks here, but now, I am so active and this group has become my friends and family. We go food hunting together, we check on each other, we encourage each other. I encourage ladies who are alone or would like to make new like minded friends, to join us.

‘I think dancing socially like we do in a big group, gives us all a chance to relive memories and to find joy in the present moment. We sing and dance to music of yesteryears and even to music our children listen to. We love the space provided to us where socialising and dancing can continue in a free and playful way. Sometimes we feel younger than we really are. And that is not a bad thing at all,” says Linda encouragingly.

Mrs Jenny Wong the oldest line dancer is 85 years old.

Here are the details on classes for those interested to join in: –

Sunday & Monday
Time    :10am to 11.30am
Venue    : Senior Citizens Club (No. 2 & 2A, Lintasan Perajurit 11B, Ipoh Garden East, Ipoh)

Tuesdays is for Beginners
Time    :    9.15am to 10.45am
Venue    :    OMPH Church Hall (19, Jalan La Salle, Taman Canning, 31400 Ipoh, Perak)

Wednesdays, Thursdays & Fridays is for Intermediate/ Advance
Time    :    10am to 11.30am
Venue    :    OMPH Church Hall (19, Jalan La Salle, Taman Canning, 31400 Ipoh, Perak)

(Contact Person: Linda Oon @012 – 7093188)

The Beginners Line Dancing Class proudly doing a dance formation.
Henrietta Lee with ‘dance guru’ Linda Oon and Lily Leong outside the OMPH hall after the advance class.


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