Sliding to Better Health at the "The Central"

Never Too Old to Play—the 2012 theme for Older Americans Month—encourages older Americans to stay engaged, active and involved in their own lives and in their communities. What a perfect description for a group of sliders at the Central Area Senior Center (aka "The Central"). What started out as a Sit and Be Fit exercise class almost 20 years ago has evolved into a sliders group that meets twice a week...and occasionally takes the show on the road.

Also known as line dancing, sliding is a dance in which individuals line up without partners and follow a choreographed pattern of steps to almost any kind of music, but mostly country and R&B.

"When we first started sliding, we only knew one routine—the Electric Slide," reported Callie Rheubotton, one of group's originators. "That's how we got our name—The Sliders. We'd repeat the same slide over and over again for at least 30 minutes before taking a break."

Now the group has a repertoire of 15 different routines, each performed to finger-snapping, booty-shaking tunes from the 60s, 70s, and 80s as well as contemporary line dance jams. It's no wonder the members are in such great shape!

In its heyday, the Sliders consisted of a little over 25 members. Currently, there are about 20. Some have slowed down due to chronic conditions and many have passed on, but they've never had a problem recruiting people who like to dance. The oldest member is 87 years strong, while the youngest is 51. They are retired cooks, healthcare workers, business owners, and teachers.

Ann King, the group's latest instructor, has been leading the Sliders for almost six years. "I enjoy coming to dance with the ladies," she said. "It takes my troubles away."

Through the years, the group has performed at several different venues including halftime for the Seattle Storm, at nursing homes, birthday and anniversary parties, and even at The Boeing Company, an early supporter.

Why is sliding important to them? The number one answer is companionship. The group dances together and eats lunch together afterwards. Others say: "I love dancing." "It keeps my body moving and it's good for my arthritis." And, my favorite: "It keeps me healthy, wealthy, and alive!"

The Central Area Senior Center is located at 500 30th Ave S, Seattle. For more information, call 206-726-4926 or visit www.centralareaseniorcenter.org.

—Karen M. Winston, Aging and Disability Services

 

Photos courtesy of Karen Winston.