BELLEVUE, Wash. — Dancing has been linked to better health for seniors and a local group, unofficially known as “Kip and Gals,” is finding fitness in line dancing.
Dance studios and recreation centers have been closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, so a group of local dance enthusiasts took their show on the road.
Kip Brandon is a retired “social dancer” who spends 6 days a week volunteering to teach and lead line dancing to seniors and anyone who needs a little socially-distanced recreation. Rain or shine, the dancers meet up outdoors and find shelter wherever they can.
Brandon said, “I would be dancing anyways, so this is a great way to dance with others in a safe way.”
He aims to spread joy, not germs — and leads the mask-wearing dancers from a social distance, “When people look back on all this and ask about what we did during the pandemic, I want to remember dancing and uplifting each other.”
Cari Murotani is one of several dozen participants who showed up in Bellevue for some dancing under a covered basketball court at Tillicum Middle School.
She said dancing is her life and has been joining Kip for 10 months, “Rain or shine, we dance. We were even dancing in the snow!”
Murotani said the group features all walks of life. People in their 50s, 60s and 70s make up the majority, but it’s not uncommon for passersby to join in. The music ranges from popular mainstream artists to tunes performed in Korean, Chinese, African, French, Spanish and more.
The international language of dance unifies the group and keeps everyone moving to the beat. There’s plenty of exercise to be had as the group typically performs 30 dances in 90 minutes.