MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Features

April 25, 2013

Dance fans line up for Azalea jamboree

Annual gathering moved to Civic Center

— Steven Allen of Fort Gibson once experienced a “big disaster” that kept him from dancing for years.

He went to a 4-H Club camp dance when he was 12. He asked a girl to dance but didn’t know how to gently twirl her hand as she turned. He held on tight, inflicting pain to her hand, and she humiliated him.

“I was a wallflower after that,” he said. “I never danced again until I was in college. A sophomore girl asked me to dance. I told her I couldn’t. She picked me up by my shoulders and said, ‘All you have to do is shake a little.’ I was so scared. I was shaking all over.”

Today, he’s helping line up the Azalea Line Dance Jamboree with the help of his wife, Sue, and others. The jamboree, which is free, will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Muskogee Civic Center, where it has moved after outgrowing the Hatbox Dance Building.

About 200 line dancers from as far away as Hutchinson, Kan., and Fayetteville, Ark., will fill the arena floor.

Allen said Iva Slater of Wagoner started the first jamboree with the Kiwanis Kickers dance group in 2009. Allen and his wife started taking weekly line dance classes at Hatbox Dance Building after he retired in November 2008.

The jamboree brings dancers together just for fun. Allen is in three groups, so he’ll be changing his shirts from pink to raspberry to orange. Sue Allen adds a little “bling” with a bracelet and rhinestones on her belt worn with jeans.

The day will include lessons in 12 dances including the “grundy gallop” to “Sold” by John Michael Montgomery, led by Betty Stretch. Daisy Lipe’s line dancing group, The Dancing Darlins, will do a one-wall dance called the “AB rocker.”

“It’s great exercise and it’s fun for young and old,” Allen said. “A lot of the guys don’t come because there’s too much wigglin’.”

It’s not too much for him, and he welcomes others to come out Saturday. “We have fun and want to spread the joy,” he said. “I enjoy meeting people.”

Sue Allen agreed.

One of those friends is Elizabeth Hearn, who is helping Sue Allen bake cookies and get things ready for the jamboree. They’ll serve lunch to those who signed up in advance and offer soft drinks and cookies to participants in the morning.

“You get so much joy out of it,” Hearn said. “It’s good for the brain and the body. And the fellowship ... I’ve made lasting friendships with good Christian women who like to wiggle their booties.”

If you go

WHAT: Azalea Line Dance Jamboree.

WHEN: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

WHERE: Muskogee Civic Center.

ADMISSION: Free.

INFORMATION: Steven Allen, (918) 478-4985 or seallen46

@yahoo.com.

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