On Tuesday morning at 10, six dance walkers met at the northeast side of the Druid Hill reservoir. It was a gray day and chilly. We acted shy at first. But one arm in the air led to another. Guided by roller-derby veteran Jannel Cannady on skates, we walked fast and laughed for a few hundred feet then we stopped laughing and dance-walked. A couple taking a stroll called out to us with big smiles, “Are you doing aerobics or walking or what?” And we relaxed more. We ran up the grassy hill and danced before the enormous Wallace Monument. Yeah, the scene turned immature and pretty dorky. And it became big fun for 40 minutes, the time it took us to complete one hip-shaking 1.5-mile circuit around the rippling water.
Windy weather and public embarrassment weren’t our only obstacles Tuesday. Technology, too. Steven Tappe, a nurse at the University of Maryland Medical Center, brought his phone that streams a radio app, but the music — everything from slow Steve Winwood to random calypso – came and went. (Tomorrow, at the next official Dance Walk party at 10 a.m. a boom-box is scheduled to attend.) But as we dance-walked on, we all talked some. And the lack of music wasn’t a tragedy.
Baltimore Fishbowl contributor Michael Yockel (below, left), a former music critic, and Steve (below, right) danced for one long stretch of lane as if they heard fast-pumping music.
“This is like my dream-come-true activity,” said Adena Galinsky (pictured below), who’s doing her post-doc at Hopkins. “It’s outside; it’s dancing; it’s with other people. Ordinarily, when you’re dancing, you’re stuck in a club. This is the middle of the day – I have energy.”
Cannady, who’s training to become a midwife, works as a shared employee at three shops in Hampden, Charlotte Elliott, owned by Dance Walk organizer Charlotte Hays Murray, 9th Life, and Dreamland. As she skated circles around the rest of us, her tall form and long hair creating an inspiring visual, I thought of my several friends who’d declined to attempt the activity out of fear of looking, well, uncool.
“I could see it taking off it people got into costumes that are really out there, like silly 80s aerobic outfits,” said one hesitant pal, adding, “And I think there should be drinks involved. Why isn’t it at 7 p.m.?”
Why? Because Hays Murray opens her store at 11, and wants to create a new space in which friends, with room for new friends, can jump-start their day. Friends who are tired of working out at the gym day after day.
“Exercise [has become] solitary,” Hays Murray said. “This is multi-generational. You can have a big group and work out at any level you want.”
Indeed, our group was multi-generational. Kathleen Adrian, a librarian formerly at the Smithsonian, brought her baby in a stroller. This baby prefers to rock ‘n’ roll all day, or at least roll. He cries less that way.
“He likes to stay in motion,” Adrian said. “Now he’s asleep.”
But will Hays Murray see her great big group dance-walking the circuit any time soon?
“It still needs the cool approval of someone like Jenn [Wasner] from Wye Oak,” said another dance-walk-resistant friend. “Or. You need Richard Simmons.”
Or how about popular radio personality Lisa Simeone? She commented this week at Baltimore Fishbowl that she’d like to give the activity a try as soon as her “broken toe heals.”
I hope she’ll step up because this group’s spirit is very cool. Trend-worthy. Wait, maybe it’s not cool exactly. It’s kid-like. These photos from a gray day don’t tell the whole story. Check out this video below and you’ll understand better how I believe we all six felt as we made the goofy loop. Next Dance Walk is tomorrow: Saturday, May 12, 10 a.m. Druid Hill Reservoir. Meet adjacent to the tennis courts. Shake your groove thing.
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