Stories of Change

Meet the Members: Deborah Gouge and Dean LeClaire

The name says it all.

Line dances are choreographed dances that have a series of repeating steps that are performed by a group of individuals that are lined up in multiple rows. With line dancing, dancers do not not need a partner; it’s completely individual.

Last April, Senior Planet North Country started offering line dancing sessions to their members. What made it even more enticing was that it was member-led! Senior Planet members Deborah Gouge, 62, and Dean LeClaire, 62, host the sessions every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 11:45am – 12:45pm at Senior Planet Exploration Center in Plattsburgh, NY. The couple enjoys sharing their passion with fellow members and showing off their amazing dance moves.

The duo has helped bring new members to the center and it’s such a big hit that they’ve recently introduced a “beginners” lesson on Wednesdays. Here they tell Senior Planet their story.

SP: How did you discover line dancing?

Deb: I remember seeing the electric slide danced on a TV show when it became popular in 1976. Then in 1980 line dancing was done in the movie Urban Cowboy.  I think that it is when country line dancing became very popular I also remember there was line dancing on the CMT channel and believe they would even do a lesson.

Though I knew of line dancing, I didn’t actually try it until maybe 1997. A dance was held on Wednesdays and Fridays evening at a local Jewish community center but it was very overwhelming with all the dancers. So I started taking classes at a YMC which has smaller groups. After that, I went line dancing when ever I had the chance.

Dean: From years of playing in a band, my hearing started to decrease, so I decided to look for other things to do, I started dancing.

SP: Why do you love line dancing?

Deb: I have loved dancing for as long as I can remember.  One of my earliest memories was dancing with my Aunt when she would come home from school. There was a local Tv show called The Buddy Deane Show,  similar to the Philadelphia’s American Band Stand, which I can also remember watching. The Buddy Deane show aired 1957-1964, which the movie Hairspray was based on.

In elementary school and high school the recreation center held dances regularly as well as proms, homecoming, and ring dances which I would attend. Dancing has always been my favorite activity. I have done it all! Swing dancing, polka dancing, ballroom dancing, aerobics, Zumba, and line dancing!

Dean:I love line dancing because of the many different dance rhythms done to different genres of music. It can be a challenge.

SP: What is your favorite thing about line dancing?

Deb: My favorite thing about line dancing was I didn’t need to find a partner. It’s very individualistic.  I love line dancing of today because there is such a wide variety of music that is used. I have meet so many people that share the same interest as I do. I consider myself part of a huge dance family. I know dancers not only in the US  but also in other parts of the world. Anywhere I travel I will try to find a place to dance.

Dean: We have dance friends from around the world that we see from time to time at different events that are the nicest people on the planet that share the love of dance.

SP: What are the benefits ?

Deb: Line dancing is a great, fun way to exercise. It can help with balance, coordination, stress, anxiety, depression, and confidence.  Line dancing is also good for your mind. It can help against developing dementia.

Dean: There are many benefits of dancing…better health, mind and body. it gets us up off the couch and out of the house and socialize. It’s a win win.

SP: How long have you been a Senior Planet member?

Deb: I have been a Senior Planet member for a little over a year.

Dean:  Deb introduced me to the Planet. I love that there was a place for aging people that show us how to keep up in this technological world. It is a must  and I appreciate all that the Planet offers.

SP: How has your member experience been?

Deb: Senior Planet has enabled me to meet so many nice people! I think that the social part is the best thing. I have enjoyed taking classes and learning new things.

SP: What is it like combining your world of line dancing with Senior Planet?

Deb: I enjoy teaching there because it allows me to share my passion of line dance with others. It has  allowed us to build our own line dance family right here in Plattsburgh.

Dean: I like teaching at the Planet because I want to give back and help others that would like to learn what we do…It is rewarding to know that you have helped others.

SP: What does Aging with Attitude mean to you?

Deb: Get out and do things that you have always wanted to do. Learn new things . Don’t worry about what others think. Enjoy yourself.

Dean: It means it time to get up and DANCE !!! So come join us for great fun, and show us your attitude on the dance floor !!! See you there!

Photo: Marco DeGirolomo. Deborah Gouge (in foreground with the “heart” sweater) teaches some moves to Claudette Raymod (in black, with glasses) and Joy Thibodeau (in pink, far right) among other Senior Planet North Country Members.

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