Approaching sunset, close to 200 people flocked to the Jones Beach band shell in Wantagh on a recent Wednesday night for a free line dancing lesson next to the boardwalk.
Marianne Taylor, who has been teaching for 10 years and dancing for 15, taught close to 125 people, ranging from all levels of dancing skill. Even more people watched from the stands or boardwalk, while listening to a mix of pop, rock and country music.
“If you can count to eight, you can line dance,” said Taylor, 50, of North Bellmore, who also teaches at the American Legion in North Bellmore on Mondays and the Knights of Columbus in Mineola on Tuesdays. “People think that they have two left feet when they start, but really if they can count to eight and get the patterns down .?.?. week after week it does come more naturally.”
The lessons will continue each Wednesday at Field 4 until the end of August from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Dancers moved their feet to songs like the “Cupid Shuffle,” Al Jarreau’s “Boogie Down” and “The Electric Slide.”
Michael Szabaga and his wife, Deborah, have spent years ballroom dancing, but just in the last year were lured into trying line dancing lessons, which they now take three times a week.
“We’re basically addicted to line dancing now, and it started here at Jones Beach,” said Michael Szabaga, 58, of Westbury. “A lot of people think line dancing is country, but it’s really not. It’s varied and diverse. New songs come along and line dances get choreographed to the new songs, so you’re always learning something new.”
He and his wife wore matching T-shirts with “Line Dancers Anonymous” written on the front and “Marianne’s Miracles” on the back, which emphasized their instructor’s ability to get them to improve.
“Even somebody with two left feet can line dance, and that would be me,” said Deborah Szabaga, 58, of Westbury. “You progress. You start with the easy dances, the 16-step dances, and then you work up to 32 and it goes from there. It’s actually exercise in disguise. It gets your heart pumping, it gets you sweating and it keeps you off the couch.”
Prudy LaScala danced in the front row of the bandshell, swaying her hips and shuffling her feet.
“I love it. I didn’t realize that so many young people do line dancing,” said LaScala, of Seaford, who brought along some friends. “I was just amazed and I think we’ll come again.”