Get in line

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 29, 2003

"Left, two three. Right, two three. Cross two. Back. Heel toe, heel toe. Electric Slide and repeat."

Randy Rugroden, a deejay and the owner of Mega Force Sound and Light, calls out moves and instructs a gathering of country line dancers on each step.

A dedicated group of about 30 people from all walks of life show up to have a good ol' time from 7 to 10 p.m. on Thursday at Your Place in Albert Lea.

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There is no pressure if the dancers don't follow the moves exactly because each dancer supports each other. The dancers have been meeting since January at Your Place. They used to meet at the Nite Out Lounge in Albert Lea, but that closed a year ago. There was no place for the dancers to gather and Rugroden approached owner Sue Miller about having country line dancing at Your Place once a week and she agreed.

Rugroden is smooth and confident in his role as deejay and instructor. He got started in country line dancing 14 years ago.

"I saw an ad in the paper for a deejay at the Days Inn in Albert Lea. There were dance instructors coming every week to teach people country line dancing. I watched the instructors for a year and then I slowly got started. People would ask me to play part of song that they knew the moves to and then they would ask me to put another song on. I decided to do a beginners class with the dancers. I just hopped into it," Rugroden said.

From watching the dance, to being a deejay, Rugroden has evolved into a top-notch instructor. Rugroden charges only $2 a dancer each Thursday night at Your Place. The people that dance come to have a good time and get exercise.

Joyce Holbrook, of Albert Lea, is one of the regulars.

"You meet the best the people when you country line dance," she said. "They didn't make me feel like an idiot. The first night I had a headache and I wanted to sit down. Everyone thought I was discouraged and told me not to give up."

On this particular Thursday night there are only three men and about a dozen women. The men are not intimidated by this because they enjoy all the eager partners that two step with them. Ed Drenth, a Thursday night regular drives from Spring Valley to Albert Lea. He wears the typical country line outfit of jeans, cowboy hat and cowboy boots.

"I know everyone here. I come alone but I am not alone once I'm here. There are so many partners I get to dance with," Drenth said.

Besides the good exercise, some of the dancers have met their partners through country line dancing. Diane Bute met her fiancee dancing.

"A lot of couples met dancing and some have even gotten married," Bute said.

In Austin there currently is no place to country line dance. Bev Groh of Austin is an instructor of country line dancing. She has won dance competitions and she made an instructional country line video that sold well in Florida, Utah and overseas. Groh has converted her garage to a dance studio and she gets calls from couples that want to learn dances, especially if they are getting married. She has been teaching Girl Scout troops how to dance so they can earn a badge.

"We used to have several places to dance in Austin. But the bars didn't like that country line dancers usually drank only pop or water. But we filled the bars and the patrons told us how much they liked watching us dance. People are still interested in getting together and doing this. If anyone wants to learn give me a call," Groh said.

Groh gives classes through Austin Community Education. Groh can be reached at 437-6201.

Sheila Donnelly can be reached at 434-2233 or by e-mail at