WAXHAW — On Friday nights the Waxhaw American Legion building comes alive with the sounds of Lady Gaga, Bill Joel, Cher and a whole host of other well-known musicians echoing through its walls.
But the music isn’t accompanying a party or special event, it’s the backdrop of the weekly Waxhaw Line Dancers who gather there every Friday to boogie to some of their favorites.
Since January, the line dancers have been gathering at the American Legion to teach newcomers and carve out a niche in their town where they can relax, exercise and just have fun.
The dances are coordinated by David and Karen Wylde, two line-dancing enthusiasts who moved here in 2005 from Indianapolis where they were very active in the line dancing scene.
When they moved down here, though, the few places they found to line dance eventually went out of business, or were catered to a more rowdy, party crowd, than the family-friendly, fun atmosphere they were hoping for.
When their last find in South Carolina went out of business in November 2011, the Wylde’s reached out to the American Legion in hopes of renting the space.
“So that worked out and it’s been going gangbusters,” Karen Wylde said.
She said on a slow Friday, they have about 15 to 18 dancers, and on a big night, as many as 30. And that turnout has been generated solely by word of mouth.
“But most of the people are regulars who started with us,” Karen Wylde said.
During the dances, her husband, David, DJ’s and both help teach, along with instructor Claire Finkler who used to teach at Central Piedmont Community College.
“We open the doors at 7 p.m., the lessons start at 7:30 p.m. until about 9 p.m. and then we go until 10:30 or 11 p.m. and just dance,” Karen Wylde said.
And while line dancing is usually associated with country music, David will play a wide-range of tunes to meet everyone’s musical tastes and keep things interesting.
“To me it’s good exercise and I tell people it’s mind and body exercise because you have to exercise your mind to remember each step,” she said. “When people think about it they think country, and it really is done an injustice because if people came and tried it, they’d really enjoy it. Line dancers are just really nice people.”
And for anyone who wants to get out of the house Friday nights but doesn’t know what to do with the kids, bring them to the Legion, because line dancing is for all ages, Karen Wylde said. She said the club has dancers in their teens up to 80 years old.
“Just bring your boots or leather-soled shoes and come out and try it,” she said. “I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.”
The club caters to all levels of dancers and the lessons at the beginning of the evening ensure everyone has a basic understanding of the steps for that night.
“This club is for all ages and levels, even if you have two left feet,” Karen Wylde said.
There is a fee to dance, though, because the line dancers are renting the Legion for those nights.
For a monthly membership, it costs $20. If you can’t make all four Fridays, associate memberships are available for $12 and if you just want to come out and try it once, it’s only $8.
The Waxhaw American Legion is located at 801 E. South Main St. For more information on the Waxhaw Line Dancers, find them on Facebook or call 704-843-9119 with any questions.