Mental, physical and social: dancing’s got it all

Lyndoch social dancers, Mark and Andrea Witcomb perform a fabulous dip, with David and Sue Hands (left), and Reg and Sue Sharp.

If you’re looking for an activity that ticks all of the boxes, Irene Liebelt thinks that dancing might just be it.

“It’s all in one; mental, physical and social exercise,” she said. 

She’s been part of the Lyndoch Social Dancing group since its inception back in February 2009, which, up until COVID-19, met regularly on a Friday night in the Lyndoch Hall for an evening of dancing and socialising.

What first started out as serious lessons with a professional dance teacher has developed into a more casual affair as years have gone by.

These days, under the skilful guidance of Reg and Sue Sharp, the group have a relaxed approach to learning the art of old style dancing, which includes dances such as the waltz, foxtrot, tango, military two step, swing, samba and rhumba.

“It doesn’t matter how old you are, we all try and blend in together and help each other,” Irene said. 

“Once you start relaxing and get used to the steps, I found then it comes so naturally. And the more you can relax, the better it is for you.”

The group’s oldest dancer is nearly 91, but dancers as young as 14 have attended, with a variety of ages in between.

Dance leader, Reg Sharp is 84 himself, and insists that dancing keeps him from “creaking up”.

“I started dancing when I was 18,” he said.

“It’s sort of in-built from the formative years, and it does mean a lot to me because it brings people together… it’s really pleasant.”

In addition to dance lessons on a Friday night, the group also hold monthly dances and special events for the wider dancing community.

Their Spring Ball last year raised $1,000 for Barossa Area Fundraisers for Cancer.

They also visit local nursing homes from time to time to share their love of dancing with the residents, who really appreciate the group’s visits.

 “I think they enjoy the music. I’m surprised by some of them, who are basically sitting in chairs, that just love to get up and move around that little bit,” said Irene.

“Any exercise is good, once you sit there in a chair all the time, you lose all that flexibility and things like that, and then afterwards, you get to that stage where it gets harder and harder… Like the saying goes, if you don’t use it, you lose it.”

COVID-19 unfortunately brought classes to a halt back in March, and the group are eagerly awaiting the time when they can all get back into the swing of it.

“We had some beginners at the end of last year, and this is probably what’s hurt me most of all, just when we had this group coming through, we suddenly had to stop,” said Irene.

She’s hopeful they will be able to welcome everyone back soon, and encourages anyone new, singles included, to give dancing a try.

“You’ve got to give yourself a chance. I always say to them, you’ve got to give yourself at least six weeks. It’s like learning to ride a bike. If you fall off the bike the first time and you never get back on, you’re never going to learn. Dancing’s no difference, it takes practice,” she said.

“Sometimes on a Friday night, you can feel tired and think can I be bothered? But once you’re here, it’s like singing. You get that air into your lungs and you feel good!”

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