Country Dancing

5-6-7-8, Learning to Count, and Taking Baby Dance Steps

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Growing up, and learning how to count.  Funny, who would imagine the significance the numbers 5,6,7,8 would contribute to the success I have found as a Country Dance instructor.

We all remember as a child learning to count to 10, how easy it was to get to 4, but then moving on from 4 up to 10, was a real struggle.

Well for me, four of those numbers, 5-6-7-8, allow me to lead my students into their steps of dance.

A little background:  It began in 2002 when I first started line dancing at the Dusty Armadillo in Rootstown.  They had just opened and were advertising line dance lessons two nights a week.  My sister in law called me and said, “Hey, let’s try this”.  After a few weeks, we were hooked and did not miss going there for every Wednesday and Friday night lesson, for almost 3 years.

When the Dance Instructor, Marsha Bailey, decided to leave the Dusty and move South in 2005, I decided right then I was ready to teach and spread the love of dancing in Medina, Summit, and Cuyahoga County.

There it is common knowledge among all dance students, any genres, that when their “home” instructor is not the one teaching, or has a substitute for any reason, it’s just not quite the same.  Everyone loves the instructor who they first learned from.  Once you have a favorite “Mother Goose”, it makes it difficult to fly without her when she leaves her flock behind to head south, or whatever reason she leaves for.

So with that said, in Winter 2004, I tested my teaching skills on my coworkers during our lunch break in the basement of City Hall.  They were my guinea pigs, but surprisingly, they started to look forward to it every week.  They allowed me to build up my confidence by teaching them, and it allowed me to venture into the real world of Line dance classes.  I advertised a class for Monday nights at the Medina Eagles.  My first night consisted of 4 very dedicated students, who 3 of them still come to my classes now, 12 years later.  In a matter of weeks, my class of 4 at the Eagles built into a solid class of 40 that faithfully came out to lessons each week.

Fast Forward to February 2007, rumor had it a new country bar was opening in the I-71 Plaza at the Rt 18/71 exit in Medina  I scurried over there after my lessons at the Eagles one Monday night, and spoke to the owner who was renovating this large hardware store into a country bar.  Whether he wanted to hear it or not, I gave him my teaching history and told him that if he allowed me to be the line dance instructor at his new club, Dirty Cowboys, that I could promise him at least 40 students would follow.  We shook hands on it, and that was the beginning of my professional career as a Line Dance Instructor.

When the doors opened in April 2007, as promised, Mother Goose arrived with close to 40 of her little ducklings to follow.  We knew we had found our new home.  My classes continued to build, and I believe what helped me with that immediate success is that I understood that everyone is a beginner at one time, just as I was beginning my professional career as an instructor.  So, I gave my students the patience that I needed back from them, as we grew together.  Unfortunately, as solid as my class attendance was, it was not enough to carry the club any longer than 20 months, when the doors closed and locked suddenly as I arrived for my Wednesday night class.   Country bars come and go, and the overhead is very costly, and I’m not real sure what happened, and only the owner at that time knows, but I was suddenly faced on that dreadful day, January 2009, trying to figure out what to do with 60-80 dance students who were addicted to their passion.

So on the weekends, for two years, we crashed every venue with at least a 12 x 12 dance floor just so we could dance and not forget all those steps, all those dances, all those friends we met and shared the common bond of dancing with.  We shuffled into the Medina VFW, Mustang Sallies, Dusty Armadillo, Columbia Ballroom, Legends, The Shamrock, Johnny Malloy’s, Red Dog Saloon, not to mention every Fair and Festival within a 50 mile radius.

Then, a miracle, a gentleman with a true love of country reopened up the old “Dirty”, and gave us all a new home in September of 2011, now known as Thirsty Cowboys.  I remember my interview with Mr. Ted Brown, and his grandson Aaron Lind, General Manager.  When they questioned me, “Tell us what you can bring to this club to make it one of the best country dance clubs in Northeast Ohio”.  I took a deep breath, counted to myself 5-6-7-8, and answered, “I can bring patience, commitment, passion, and the love of dance to anyone who comes through your door hoping to learn a few more steps other than the classic line dance done at every wedding, the Electric Slide”.

So, here I am now, 5 years as the Country Dance Instructor at Thirsty Cowboys in Medina.  Every Wednesday and Friday night, at 7:30, consistently, a few more new students are on that floor.  I take that opportunity to say before each class….”Keep coming back, you will get it, I cannot teach you if you are not here, everyone is a beginner, everyone makes mistakes, know that we want you here, and I promise, anyone can do this, if you can count to 4, you can learn to line dance.  In fact, I will take you past that number four, you will learn to love hearing 5-6-7-8….those numbers will give you a taste of freedom and take you to a place where you are proud to be, dancing in line with some of the best friends you will ever come to know”

Deborah Siebert can be found teaching country dancing every Wednedsay and Friday at Thirsty Cowboy in Medina, Ohio.  For more information follow Thirsty Cowboy on Facebook or check out their website at www.ThirstyCowboy.com

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