FLINT TWP. — About four years ago, Gloria Thompson wanted to learn some dance floor moves for her Flint Northwestern High School 40th Class Reunion. She turned for help to her friend Nina Gayden whose reputation for cutting the rug dates back to childhood.
All they needed was a place with space to move, which was graciously provided by the Carman Ainsworth Senior Citizens Center, 2071 S. Graham Road. Since then, the group has grown from a handful to about 60 women (and a few men), who regularly attend the weekly Thursday activity, according to Pam Luna, interim director of the senior center.
Line dancing is a partnerless form of dance where participants stand in rows and do the same movements in sequence.
“All of these women and some men, they love to come for this,’’ Luna said. “They do it because it makes them feel so good.”
One group travels all the way from Saginaw but most are Flint Township retirees and women over 50, she said.
The class is free and open to anyone age 50 and up, but the center asks that participants pay a nominal fee to sign up for a center membership, Luna said.
After Thompson’s class reunion, some of the women asked Gayden to continue the class. With permission for the center, she consented.
“From that day on, it just blossomed,’’ said Gayden, who is now a paid instructor at the center.
She recalled one woman in her sixties who approached her and asked to learn to dance though she had never danced in her life.
“I said if you can move your right foot and left foot, I can teach you,’’ Gayden said.
That woman is now a regular.
Another woman was on a walker but danced to the point she walked off the dance floor and forgot her cane, Gayden said, noting that a photo was taken to record that breakthrough.
“A lot of the ladies say their blood flow is better, they are getting off medications and they are getting out of the house,” Gayden said. “They are fellowshipping, having fun and meeting new people. They just enjoy it tremendously.”
The senior center dancers have made up matching T-shirts. The shirts are bright red with an H & L logo, meaning “hustle and line,’’ and the word inspire because that is what they do, Gayden said.