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Three days of line dancing is painful even with the help of pros

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I don't recommend eating and dancing. As a general rule, it's a bad idea.

But sometimes, when a really good song comes on and you've already got a full stomach, well, you've got to re-prioritize.

Last Friday night, as I attended the opening "Welcome Back" dinner at Cowboys Nightclub for the seventh annual "Pikes Peak Line Dance ... or Bust!" workshop, I faced this very predicament. So, like the rest of the dedicated line-dancers around me, I chose to ignore the mashed potatoes slopping about in my stomach but only for a couple hours. Anticipating an early morning, I called it a night pretty early on.

I had a big weekend ahead of me.

Dinner aside, the real festivities began on Saturday morning. It was 8:30 a.m. when I entered Hillside Community Center, where the bulk of the weekend's activities were to occur. With a step-sheet handbook and a program, I was given a red and black tie-dye workshop T-shirt. Fashionable it wasn't, but that didn't dampen my excitement.

Into the gymnasium I went. Half the room was filled with tables, the other half left open for dancing. Around the edges, vendors sold sequined belts, bejeweled jeans and sparkly purses line dancers, apparently, are known for liking a little bling with their boots. I eyeballed, and purchased, what might be considered a boring black "Gotta Dance" sweatshirt before finding a seat.

Aside from the friend I wrangled into this with me, I was the youngest in the room by at least 10 years, although in many cases, it was more like 20 or 30.

The day proceeded at an amazing pace. Five choreographers put some 140 dancers though the steps of one to two dances per hour. By 5 p.m., I had learned 10 dances, and was completely wiped out.

There was a two-hour dinner break before the night's activities commenced. Dinner would have to wait. I crashed at my friend's place until it was time to return.

Back at Hillside, the chairs were rearranged into a half-circle around the dance floor. We sat through demos from the choreography competition and a '70s dance performance by four of our weekend instructors maybe the tie-dye shirts did have a purpose? A slice of frosted yellow cake injected just enough sugar into me to get my legs moving during the open dancing portion of the night.

By 9:30, though, I was done.

Come Sunday morning, the only thing I could think of was a hot bath and crawling back in bed. I took the bath but slipped into my boots, not under the covers.

When I returned for day three, the stairs to the gym were daunting. I told my thighs to suck it up and headed to the dance floor with the cutest 70-plus-year-old couple in the place. They seemed to be moving fine, not at all sore. In fact, most everyone seemed to be moving fine. Everyone but me.

I noticed one of our choreographers downing a Red Bull. Ah ha. Maybe that was the secret.

By day's end, I had learned eight more dances (including a waltz to Kermit the Frog's "Rainbow Connection"), and I was nearly destroyed.

I debated calling in sick to work on Monday. This weekend kicked my butt. I probably won't be attending November's five-day seminar hosted by similar line-dancing aficionados in Las Vegas.

Well, we'll see. capsule

Pikes Peak Line DancersDaylong workshops with master instructors happen a few times a year; the next annual "Pikes Peak Line Dance ... or Bust!" workshop is scheduled for July 2008.

Visit home.earthlink.net/~theherberts for more information.

Cowboys Nightclub

3910 Palmer Park Blvd.

Line dance lessons every Sunday at 5 p.m.

Admission: $5, all ages; call 596-1212 for more.

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