Nursing home residents learn to line dance

Published 11:17 am Tuesday, August 1, 2023

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By BARTON PERKINS | Staff Writer

PELHAM – Soon after taking over the community outreach position at 24e Gym, Libby Schropp knew that she wanted to line dance with seniors.

“I’ve been a Zumba instructor for 12 years, so I wanted to bring on dancing to the gym and looked all over Birmingham but could not find a line dance instructor,” Schropp said. “So finally, I was like, you know what, I’m just gonna do it myself.”

After being officially certified in line dance instruction a few months ago, Schropp began assembling a team of volunteers interested in helping her work with seniors. The newly assembled group, 24e Electric Dance Lines, began visiting nursing homes on Friday, July 21.

“One of the nurses came up to me afterward, and she said, ‘you guys just brought the life back into here for an hour,’” Schropp said.

Since the 24e Electric Dance Line’s first outing, the group has been invited to numerous retirement facilities in Shelby County, including Columbia Health and Rehabilitation, Shelby Ridge and the Amelia Center. Participants have primarily been in their 80s and 90s, doing everything from directly participating in the class or merely observing. 

“One lady was celebrating her 90th birthday,” Schropp said. “She said, ‘I know you can tell I’ve been in shape all my life. I used to do Richard Simmons.’ She got up there and was just swinging her arms and having a ball.”

While giving seniors a chance to move around is a big component of 24e Electric Dance Line’s mission, their bigger goal is to provide the nursing home and assisted living residents with enrichment opportunities. Part of what makes that enrichment so successful is that 24e Electric Dance Line comprises people of all ages.

“We have some girls in their 40s,” Schropp said. “We also have a lady in our line dance squad in her 70s. I think everybody there’s like, ‘Oh, we can relate to this group because there’s one of everything under the sun.’”

Line dancing can be very physically demanding, so Schropp and her colleagues occasionally need to provide accommodations for some participants. That being said, the program has proven to be incredibly popular so far.

“People are reaching out to us after seeing us on social media,” Schropp said.  “And they’re like, ‘this is so cool,’ and they’re just sending me places they want us to go to. So I feel like we’ll definitely be doing this for a while.”