When: 7 p.m. the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month
Where: American Legion Post 7, 2343 Riverside Drive, Gainesville
More info: www.lanierdance.com
In 2010, Barbara Mitchell took up a new hobby: dancing.
The then-48-year-old Gainesville woman had never taken a dance class before, but a friend talked her into trying a line dancing class.
“I said, ‘This is going to be ugly,’” Mitchell said. “I’m real uncoordinated. She said ‘It doesn’t matter. We’re just having fun.’”
But for Mitchell, it wasn’t ugly. Dancing became her new love.
After participating in the line dancing class for about a year, she tried a ballroom dancing class and learned four new dances.
“I immediately fell in love with it,” she said. “I’ve been dancing as much as I can since then.”
Mitchell is now president of Lanier Dance, a group that promotes dance in Hall County.
Founded in 1993, the group meets the second and fourth Tuesday of each month at the American Legion Post 7, 2343 Riverside Drive, in Gainesville. The entry fee is $8 per person.
Instructors, who are group members or hired professionals, teach a specific dance between 7 and 8 p.m. twice a month.
“We try to get a variety of instructors to appeal to as many people as possible,” Mitchell said.
Then they can move their feet to the beats until 10 p.m.
The group tends to stick with one type of dance instruction for three months. Currently, dancers are learning East Coast Swing. Some examples of the dance form include the Charleston and Shag.
The group will learn a country two-step this summer and waltz in the fall.
Karen Long and her husband, Dave, started dancing with the group 15 years ago after taking lessons at Gainesville First United Methodist Church off Thompson Bridge Road.
Many of those students also joined the dance group, almost as if the lessons at GFUMC were a prerequisite.
“We went and started participating and thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed it,” Long said. “Now, we teach dance classes (for the group) sometimes.”
Long said she’d like to see the group grow and encourages all level of dancers to try Lanier Dance.
“It’s very social,” Long said. “It’s good exercise. We made some wonderful friends through the dance club.”
Mitchell agreed, saying dancing is a good social outlet and way to make new friends.
The group is open to anyone 21 years old and older. All skill levels are welcome, as well as single dancers. Mitchell said other group members will partner with single dancers if they need one.
“We have everything from beginners to people who have several years of experience to people competing in dance competitions,” she said.
Typically, 30 to 40 people attend the bimonthly events. The group previously met only once a month but expanded to twice a month to keep people from forgetting what they learned.
Mitchell encourages new participants to stick with it for six to eight dances before deciding if they like it.
“It took me that long to learn the language of dance, what they were asking for when they gave instruction and to get that coordinated,” she said.
It has made such a difference in her life.
“For all my life prior to 2010, I would say ‘No, I don’t dance,’” Mitchell said. “Now, I just love it.”
Mitchell said she loves the movement. She described some of the dances as fun while others are beautiful and flowing.
“It’s great exercise, both physically and mentally to remember the sequences and remember the steps,” Mitchell said. “It’s great exercise for coordination to be at a certain place on a certain count.”