Purple Charlotte Steppers Offers Free Dance Lessons | Entertainment

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Demond Carter, founder of the Purple Charlotte Steppers, leads the dance class. Her organization has been in the community since 2005. Karie Simmons / MMHW photo




MATTHEWS – There is no magic pill that reduces stress, increases energy, increases mental capacity, and improves flexibility, strength, balance and endurance, but there is dancing.

Just ask Matthews’ Calann Little, who recently did cha-cha and vine in a soul line dance class hosted by the Purple Charlotte Steppers Club at the Crews Recreation Center.

“We’re old people, it helps us challenge ourselves,” Little said. “Every time we go to the doctor they say we have to move more and walk more, so that’s a fun way to do it. It wakes up all the muscles in your body.

In addition, the music is catchy and contagious.

“It gives you that beat, so you really want to move,” she said.

Purple Charlotte Steppers Club is a social organization that has been running professional dance classes, sponsoring local and national events, and initiating programs in the community since 2005.

They recently started offering soul dance classes on Mondays at the Crews Recreation Center and “Ballroom Made Easy” classes on Wednesdays at the Matthews Community Center. Both are free and open to the public thanks to a partnership between the Purple Charlotte Steppers, Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation, the Town of Matthews and the Mecklenburg County Arts and Science Council.

Demond Carter, founder of the Purple Charlotte Steppers, said the soul line dance class had low attendance in the first session on Jan.6, when Gail Goldberg of South Charlotte was the only participant.

Goldberg was teaching a tai chi class at the Crews Recreation Center earlier today and saw Carter settle in. She decided to stay, not knowing she would get a private lesson.

“It was so much fun, so I told everyone about it,” Goldberg said. “Dancing is easy, but it consumes a lot of energy. The music is great. Anytime they play any song, you can move around in it, you can cha-cha.

Word has spread since then, in part thanks to Goldberg. More people showed up during the soul line dance on February 10, and Carter said many of them were familiar faces.

Carter taught the classes himself with occasional help from other Purple Charlotte Steppers instructors. He said people seem to enjoy moving their bodies while also stimulating their minds by keeping the beat and remembering the steps.

He said it’s important for everyone to get moving and have a good time. He also wants the routines to be tough.

“I think sometimes we look at our elderly population and put limits on them that don’t exist,” he said. “We have a woman who comes every week and is 90 years old and I don’t change the routine for her. We can certainly adapt a movement if someone needs it, but we don’t change the song.

Ruby Alston, from Matthews, loves to dance and was struggling to find a place to dance before Purple Charlotte Steppers started offering free lessons.

“I just had a lot of fun and I feel good about what I did – even though I tripped a lot – it’s good exercise,” she said.

She loves the way Carter breaks down the moves and goes through the steps to make sure everyone is on the same page. Even if it’s your first class, Alston said you won’t feel like you’re late.

This safe and welcoming environment is what keeps people coming back. Alston said it’s less threatening than the gym and dancing is a good activity for people who don’t enjoy other types of exercise or aerobics.

“Everyone loves music,” she says. “It touches their soul and they want to move.”

Want to go?

Soul Line Dance Classes are held Mondays from noon to 1 p.m. at the Crews Recreation Center, 1201 Crews Road. Ballroom Made Easy classes are held Wednesdays from 7 to 8 p.m. at the Matthews Community Center, 100 E. McDowell St. Both are free, open to the public, and run until the end of June. Visit www.purplecharlotte.com for details.

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