Dance the night away

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By Kirstie Kipfmiller
Lansing Star staff writer

Men and women from all over the state came to Lansing, Mich., to show off their smooth moves. On Sunday, Oct. 2, Claudia Bleil of East Lansing, Mich., who held three dance parties in the spring, hosted the Sunday Swing and Country dance party.

“We don’t have a whole lot of organized dancing going on in the Lansing area like this,” said Bleil. “We are trying very hard to cultivate it.”

Bleil, who had wanted to be a dancer ever since she was a young girl, has recently begun teaching classes out of her home.

The event cost $10 per person and $8 for students. It began at 4 p.m. with two dance lessons conducted by Bleil and Joann Podleski, who teaches her own classes in the Flint area. The dance party began at 5:30 p.m., and lasted until 8 p.m. The party consisted of a variety of music, refreshments, and dancers from all levels from fellow instructors to individuals who are just learning.

“My girlfriends really good,” said C.T. Travis of Eaton Rapids, Mich., who has recently started taking classes from Bleil. “It’s a good thing to do. She enjoys it. I enjoy it. You meet great people. It’s a chance for all the people to get together.”

The dance party welcomed couples as well as singles.

Diane Kopec of Flint and Fred Murray of Lansing

Rick Pieters, who is recently divorced, learned West Coast Swing 10 years ago but never followed through with it. He is currently taking Bleil’s West Coast Swing class.

“This summer is my coming out to start dancing again,” said Pieters. “It gets you out to meet people and dance with people. I’m a single guy. I need a social activity to get back into circulation. And when I get a woman in my arms — that’s why I like it so much.”

“This is extraordinarily social,” said Bleil. “It doesn’t matter if you’re married or single. Most of us dance with each other.”

After Bleil retires from her job as a retail-marketing specialist, she plans to expand her classes outside of her home.

“When I teach, I tell them I’m working on my retirement career, because it will be,” said Bleil. “I can go anywhere with it. It’s a skill.”

Bleil will be holding her next dance party on Sunday, Nov. 6, at 4 p.m.

“People that are here really like to dance,” said Pam Sage of Lansing, Mich. “I mean, that’s what we do.”

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