Lou Walker dance troupe laying it on the line for fitness, fun
Jennifer Ffrench-Parker | 1/17/2014, 6 a.m.
When JD Hall is dancing, he is at his best.
“I shine when I dance,” he says with a laugh. “I feel good when I dance.”
Ditto for the Lou Walker Line Dance Troupe, which he leads.
The lithe-on-the-foot group also loves to dance and it shows in their polished movement and on their faces.
“Just look at their faces,” Hall said. “It makes them cheerful. You can dance your problems away.”
They will perform at 1 p.m. on the main stage near Sears at the CrossRoadsNews 2014 Health & Wellness Expo at the Mall at Stonecrest on Jan. 25.
Hall, 69, says dancing is a fun way to stay fit.
“I always say, ‘If you dance, you live longer,’” he said.
The line dance troupe is dominated by women 17-to-3.
Doris Lewis, 63, has been dancing with the troupe for three years. She says she dances daily because it’s good for her.
“And I am doing something that I like to do,” she said.
Annie Low said joining the line dance class was a no-brainer for her. She dances four to five times a week at the center.
“I enjoy the movement. I enjoy the motion,” she said on Jan. 15. “Tomorrow I will be 74. To see myself moving and enjoying myself at this age is just a blessing.”
Hall is one of two line dance instructors at the center. He teaches the advanced class on Fridays, and Sylvia Bailey teaches Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Most of the dance troupe members take class four times a week.
Hall said he has been trying to lure more men into the group, but it has been challenging.
“They sit around playing cards,” he said. “I tell them, ‘Come and dance. If you don’t use it, you will lose it. If you don’t move it, your legs will seize up on you and you will go dormant.’”
The retired Norfolk Southern freight train conductor became a member of the Lou Walker Senior Center when it opened in 2005 at the urging of his wife, Conneva.
He retired before she did and was sitting around their Lithonia home cleaning, cooking, eating and packing on the pounds.
“When she said, ‘JD, you should go to that center,’ I told her I didn’t want to go to any old folks home,” he said.
But when he visited, the music coming from the line dance class drew him in.
He was 250 pounds when he joined the class but trimmed down to 195 pounds before settling at 220.
“I had two surgeries and stopped dancing for a while,” he said.
When the class instructor moved on in 2008, Hall was tapped to take his place.
Not long after, the group was performing at all the center’s events, at county employees picnics, and at nursing homes.
Lewis says she loves when the troupe performs at nursing homes.
“We get to bring a little enjoyment and fun to residents,” she said. “It makes them feel good, and even if they can’t move with us, they throw their hands up in the air.”