Last March, as we slowly became aware the Pandemic of 2020 was real, the first thing for me that I thought about was how country dancing at a bar with my friends was now something we might not be able to do for awhile.
It was March 7, a Friday night, that I decided: “This is it! This is my last night, I’m going to err on the side of caution and not come tomorrow and see what happens!” Little did I know how many months it would be! I’m writing this now, here in December and there doesn’t seem to be any end in sight.
So, as this has dragged on, many are wondering when will line dancing and country dancing start again? The answer really needs to be: it depends! But, for some it actually didn’t completely stop! I’ve noticed in the dancing community lots of resolves to keep dancing and fortunately in many cases a good effort to do so in a fairly safe way given the situation. But we all long for those great nights at the local bars and dancehalls and are saying “when, oh when?!”
The answer is that we don’t really know when we can resume line dancing, hopefully by the summer of 2021, but until then here’s what some are doing and some suggestions for how to keep dancing to stay happy and get the exercise and mental boost that it gives.
State restrictions during Covid-19 and how they affect the dancing community
For most of us that have enjoyed country dancing activities like line dancing and partner dancing our main venue is our local country bar & saloon. It was evident very early on as the pandemic descended upon us this was one of the first places of business that would shut down.
As the pandemic has raged on, states throughout the country have developed and instituted tiered systems to categorize businesses and decide what is essential, what is non-essential and also decide how vulnerable the businesses deemed non-essential were for Covid-19 transmission.
Well, unfortunately for the dance community the local country bars are in the worst position–being both non-essential and very vulnerable as places were the virus could be spread.
California, as an example, has in place a color-coded tier system where each county is closed up or relaxed based on positive Covid tests received. As of August 31 Governor Newsom released this “Blueprint for a Safety Economy” which replaced the previous county monitoring list. See below for the released graphic illustrating the “Blueprint.”
The numbers on this chart and how it works can be a little confusing. It breaks down like this:
This is per county “County risk level” So when it says “More than 7.0 daily new cases (per 100k), this means over 7 new cases testing positive per each 100,000 residents in a given county.
For example, currently as we begin December almost all counties in California have been moved to the purple tier (“widespread”). So lets take Orange county as an example:
Orange county has a population of 3.176 million people. This divided by 100K is 31.76. The math has us multiply 31.76 x 7, which equals about 222. So then, for a given day there can’t be more than 222 new cases. On November 29 there was 1,058! And for the 7 day running average it appears we are about 25 new cases per 100k (about 800/day on average) So, obviously we are well passed the red tier!
A county not quite so bad would be Sierra county in Northern California. This county, while over the 7 (at 9.2 new cases/100k residents) has a positive test result rate of only 4.9. So, for now they enjoy the Orange “moderate” tier.
But now, here is what those colored tiers mean for our beloved dance venues! When it comes to “Bars, breweries, and distilleries” these levels mandate the following:
Outdoor only with modifications
Indoor with modifications
Capacity must be limited to 50%
So, I think that all this information leads us to the better answer…
Line dancing will begin again for you and your local venues when the rate of new cases is at such a low rate that the non-essential bars can open up again, perhaps at first at a partial capacity before eventually opening back up at normal full-capacity operation.
But what about now? Since we really don’t know when each of our particular cities and counties will be safe again, is there any way to get some line dancing in before that comes to pass? There totally is! Please read on…
Line dancing Zoom meetings and online lessons during the pandemic
Right away this last summer friends of mine suggested and offered to keep dancing on Friday nights through Zoom! At first, I was excited and joined in. But honestly, for me, it just wasn’t the same. I was alone in my living room trying to see the steps of my friends on the tiny little windows on the computer! I hung in there for a few weeks and finally bowed out.
But this was just me! I know many of them have continued meeting and dancing. I’m happy they have, cause it means some of us are still getting that dance night in and connecting with people still as best as we can.
I’ve also noticed many of the great line dance teachers are continuing to teach, but just through live Facebook events now instead. I really feel for those in the line dance community that don’t just dance for fun, but depend on it for a living! Like other businesses have had to adapt to this time, I’ve seen them also adapting and forging on.
Adia Nuno of Riverside California organized a “Virtual Bar Crawl” where over the course of a week about 15 line dance instructors had a time slot on Facebook to teach a line dance. The fee was 12.00 which gave you access to all the lessons. This kind of thing was great to see. People just doing their best to keep dancing, to still teach, and also stay safe. I loved seeing the organized effort to support teachers out there who are struggling right now.
Outdoor line dancing in the park!
The urge to keep dancing for some honestly is just irresistible! And I feel for all my friends that miss it so much. For me, I tend to just go without, but I’m am feeling the toll that missing activities like dancing is taking in low-grade depression, etc. So, some are still dancing, and dancing together! But its happening outdoors, in parks and hopefully mostly with mask wearing.
I have a couple of good friends that I was dancing with at a park once a week and it was really great to keep it going. It was a little challenging to move on grass the same way you can on a smooth wood floor, but it is doable. A friend of mine who is a great line dancer and teacher has started a group in a local park and then through Facebook visibility has seen the group really growing.
An ABC news story really highlights what I believe is happening all over the country – how could it not? People love dancing and if there’s a way to still get out and do it safely, they will!
Also, check out some of my friends line dancing recently before it got too cold!
This pandemic has been hard on us all. It is important for us to stay vigilant and not grow weary in well doing! Let’s keep wearing our masks and practicing social distancing. But I really understand the difficulty so many of us are going through not having those normal outlets for exercise and social interactions with friends. What can be done?
For now we can get line dancing in still, but just safely! In the comfort and safety of our own living rooms or maybe outside with a few friends. Let’s all hang in there. I just keep thinking the longer we have to wait, the sweeter it will be when we get to go back!