‘The Wobble’, ‘Rock This Party,’ ‘Sanko,’ and ‘Cow Boi Boogie’ are all moves taking the line dancing world by storm, and Terry Townes, a dance instructor of Pennsylvania Avenue’s own Jubilee Arts, is showing all of them at her session of Waterfront Wellness presented by Medifast®️ Optavia®️. Terry’s upbeat and warm nature with her students and eagerness to wave over to those watching from afar to come and join in the healthy fun are just some of the reasons why her class is becoming one of the most popular sessions this season. Near Light Street’s tree-lined West Shore Park, Terry encouragingly counts out the steps to that week’s list of featured dance moves as participants jam, clap, and move to the beat with a spacious view of The Inner Harbor as the scenic backdrop. At the close of each session, only the sun is brighter than the smiles of her class of cheerful students.
We had the pleasure of chatting with Terry to learn more about her affinity for line dancing, what her lessons do for the mind and body, and her personal health journey to the dance floor.
“How did you get into line dancing?”
Terry: “I started line dancing in 2015 as a form of exercise after I was diagnosed with diabetes. A group of girlfriends at work that I hung out with were also diabetic and we decided to do something about it and line dancing was it.”
“Did you enjoy it when you first started?”
Terry: “I’m not going to lie, it was a challenge for me.” (*laughs*) “I didn’t get it at first. All the time I was ready to quit. But then we went to line dancing class hosted by Jubliee Arts and really enjoyed it. They taught me all the moves by breaking them all down so I could get it. I got it so good that they offered me the position of Line Dancing Instructor with Jubliee Arts since fall 2019. My classes were onsite until COVID hit in 2020.”
“How did you adjust during that time of heavy social distancing?”
Terry: “I took my classes to the Zoom world which was new for me. I did about four to five sessions teaching line dancing virtually and did so up until this spring. Not only did I teach for Jubilee Arts, but I decided to also do a wellness session with my coworkers on Friday evenings. Staff could come down from the offices some days and we would line dance.”
“What is it like being back outside teaching sessions since COVID restrictions lifted?”
Terry: “It’s great because what happens with Zoom is that you don’t get that fellowship. So now that we’re outside, we can see the greenery–the water is great down here at The Inner Harbor–and you get to see people in the classes laugh and interact with each other. Here, you can really engage them into the dance. So this is very exciting for me that we’re outside. No more virtual sessions and here at West Shore Park is a really great place to do it.”
“Every dance instructor has one song that they love play so they can show off their moves. What’s yours?”
Terry: “I love them all, but the one that everyone’s doing is ‘Jerusalema’--but everyone here in Maryland seems to be doing it on the wrong leg. They’re not tapping their feet when they do it. It’s a dance that I taught last year, but now it’s all over the world. I’m excited that I get to teach that dance a lot because I want to make sure that everyone is doing it the correct way.”
“So it's fair to say that you’re educating the entire state.”
Terry: “I’m trying to, you know.” (*laughs*) “And everyone who comes to my class know that when they go out to line dance, they’ll call me up and tell me ‘Terry, they’re doing it on the wrong leg’ when they see people stepping to ‘Jerusalema’ on the wrong leg. Then I tell them, ‘Get up there and show them how to do it on the right leg.’ And if I go out and see someone having a challenge with the dance, I’ll help them right along and keep on moving.”
“It’s clear that you truly enjoy line dancing.”
Terry: “Yes, because it’s a great form of fitness for me. I don’t mean to jump back to what we were talking about earlier, but I used this exercise to get off the medication for diabetes because dancing made me eat better and eventually got to the gym–but line dancing is where it all started. And it’s easy to do, it’s not hard on your limbs, and it’s fun–just fun.”
“What are some of the mental benefits your students can receive while taking one of your Waterfront Wellness classes?”
Terry: “Line dancing helps with so much. It helps with coordination because you have to know what steps to take with the beat. If you’ve been inside all the time like most of us have been since the pandemic hit, it helps you to get out and socialize. It also helps you think. Because in line dancing you have to talk to your feet. I tell my students all the time, ‘Talk to your feet’. When you start doing that, your feet start moving. Being outside dancing instantly creates a sense of community with others. We also start to get in tune with ourselves as we start talking to our entire body: feet, arms, head–everything. And you have an extra step that you want to throw in here and there–just do it. Once you learn the step–add your spin, add your hand wave–whatever you want to do, you can make it your own.”
“Style aside, what do you tell people with various health ailments who want to participate in your Waterfront Wellness session?”
Terry: “I always tell people to talk to their doctors when it comes to physical activity that may leave them feeling winded, but senior citizens in nursing homes do line dancing in chairs as they move their feet. But I tell anyone who comes to my class to bring their water bottle and towel for their heads because we’re going to sweat.”(*laughs*)
Terry's dedication to helping every member in her Line Dancing session is what you will find seven days a week when you register for free to attend any of the Waterfront Wellness classes presented by Medifast®️ Optavia®️ happening this season. Their sponsorship of this wonderful series is welcoming Baltimore back to The Waterfront with Vinyasa Yoga with Breathing Dragon, Lunch Meditation, Bootcamp with XPF, Riot Squad Run and many more uses communal physical activity to promote positive mental health. Waterfront Wellness is helping all of us reconnect with each other and ourselves through exercise–and we can't wait to see you outside with us.