Arts and Culture
5:07 pm
Fri March 29, 2013

Not your grandma's line dancing, in Mexico, Mo.

This story is featured in this week's Off the Clock, which you can listen to here:

Every Monday morning in Mexico, Missouri, a group of people pull out their cowboy boots and head to dance lessons.  Except in this class, no one is younger than 65.  The group is led by state champion line dancers JoAnn Roth and Beverly Talley.  For these women, you’re never too old to dance. 

At the Garfield Community Center in Mexico, Mo., JoAnn Roth and Beverly Talley’s class is standing in straight lines and ready to dance by 9 in the morning. 

The group decides on a fast dance - the “tush push” for their warm up.  Everybody’s discussing what music they should play, and they finally decide on a song called “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy.”  This is not your grandma’s dance group.  Or maybe it is?  

The class dances for about an hour on this day, but some of the students dance five or six days a week—they just can’t seem to get enough.  And they say all dance for the same reason, to be together.  

Sue Waechter, a retired nurse from Mexico, Mo., leads the group through most of the dances.  Because of her nursing background, her reason for dancing isn’t a surprise—she likes the exercise.  “There was a study done in Australia about the benefits of line dancing.  In particular it’s a weight bearing exercise, so it helps our joints and prevents osteoporosis and bone loss.  So, there’s some scientific basis for it besides it being fun,” she says.

JoAnn Roth and Beverly Talley stand in the front of the group and never miss a step.  They’re both state champion line dancers.  But are reluctant to admit it.  Talley has been competing since the 1990’s.  “They had this competition forever," she says. "I can’t remember when it started, and we used to watch it.  And so, when I watched it this one year, I decided well, I can do anything they’re doing, so the next year I entered and I won."

Every Saturday night, Talley and Roth put on jeans and colored boots and drive to Kingdom City, to a place called KC Country.  From the outside, the club looks like a plain white barn, but as soon as you step inside you’re in a honky-tonk with a live band and boots stomping on the dance floor.  The air is smoky and the beer is flowing.  And at the back of the dance floor Talley and Roth are showing everyone how line dancing is done.  Song after song, the pair chooses the steps and everyone else follows their lead. “We can just do our own thing, and we really like to dance fast dances and do some of the little bit more difficult ones at times, and we just like each other’s company.  It’s our night out,” Roth says.

Roth and Talley have memorized hundreds of dances over more than 20 years of practice.  “We never repeat a dance on Saturday evenings…and we are there from 8:30 to 11:30,” says Roth.

Talley says, “We’re just two widowed ladies, and we just go out and do whatever.  We just dance.  We still love to dance.”  One thing is for sure, these ladies want to keep dancing until they can no longer walk, no matter what their age. 

Related Program