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Betsy Swanback

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February 7, 2013
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Douglas County dance groups offer options for all ages

The fleet of foot can sashay, waltz or salsa the night away every weekend, given the array of dance options offered throughout Douglas County.

Gatherings are available for all ages, from the Urethane Teen Dance in Myrtle Creek to the Country Music Express at the Sutherlin Senior Center. Some dancers enjoy the connections they make at the sites, some like being active and others appreciate listening to unique music.

Scottish and English country dancing is the highlight of Friday evenings for Alixe Dancer. Dancer, who changed her name to reflect her love of the art, leads beginners through basic steps before the regular session begins.

“We accommodate the new dancers and try to make them feel comfortable,” she said. “Every dance is taught every night.”

Held from 6:30 to 8 p.m. weekly at the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center, 913 N.W. Garden Valley Blvd., the results look like the dancing in classic English movies such as “Pride and Prejudice,” she said.

“The forms are very geometric. We go around in a circle or cross the set to make squares or triangles,” she said. Part of the style’s appeal is the group formation, as opposed to dancing with a single partner, Dancer said.

The Roseburg VA also hosts folk dancing directly after the Scottish country dances on Friday nights.

Norman Oswald, who teaches the simple steps beforehand, said the group does traditional ethnic folk dances from Israel and many countries in Eastern Europe.

“I love the music. A lot of it is ethnic music that is different from traditional American music,” he said. “It’s eclectic but it’s traditional. It’s been around in those cultures for a long time.”

Oswald said the group is aging, but has a lot of spirit.

The Winston Veterans of Foreign Wars also hosts a dance with live music every Friday. Valerie West, bar overseer, said local musician Joe Ross performs country and early rock covers for the occasion.

“My favorite part is the personal interaction between the bar tenders and the patrons that come in to dance,” she said. “We’re close-knit.”

Participants meet from 7 to 11 p.m. at the Winston VFW post 570 S.W. Douglas Blvd.; costs is $4. West said organizers would like to attract a younger crowd in addition to the current one.

The younger crowd flocks to the Urethane Teen Dance at the Myrtle Creek Elks Lodge on the first and third Friday of each month. Mike Hill, who runs Mike’s Mobile DJ, which hosts the dance, said the event is for middle school- and high school-aged youth. Parents are always welcome to chaperone.

Hill said he locks the doors after the dancing starts to keep kids from wandering and getting into trouble. Music is primarily top 40 hits, hip-hop and pop.

“It gives (kids) the opportunity to express themselves through music and dance,” Hill said. “It opens up the kids and helps them break out of their shell.” It also gives them something to do on a Friday night, he said.

“They kind of open up and that quiet kid is more fun and has more fun and is energetic and is willing to talk,” he said. “It’s a whole social interaction, having bonding time with your friends.”

Downtown Roseburg has a Saturday night salsa dance preceded by lessons. Salsa Dance manager Curtis Collins he is trying to bring salsa to Roseburg after seeing its success in places such as Eugene and Portland. Guests gather at 8 p.m. at 638 S.E. Rose St. for lively music and fun moves, he said.

“It helps dexterity and reflexes and is very energetic,” he said. “It’s positive music that makes you laugh and smile.”

Cost is $7, including the class.

Western tunes get their due at Country Music Express, held from 1 to 4 p.m. the second Saturday of every month at the Sutherlin Senior Center, 202 E. Central Ave. Guitarist and pianist Wes Brown said most of the attendees are seniors, and the goal is to have a good time.

“I enjoy watching people have fun. That’s what it’s for, to have fun,” he said. “Everyone that comes out seem like they enjoy it.”

• You can reach reporter Betsy Swanback at 541-957-4208 or by email at bswanback@nrtoday.com.

“I love the music. It’s eclectic but it’s traditional.

Norman Oswald
folk dance teacher

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The News-Review Updated Feb 7, 2013 10:06AM Published Apr 19, 2013 11:16AM Copyright 2013 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.