Behind a length of guardrail off Route 1 lies a small brick building. While it may seem quiet from the outside, one step inside shows how this community really knows how to kick up their heels. Every Monday for the past few weeks the Doswell Ruritan Club has opened up the building to host a line dancing class for the community.
One major feature of this class is that there is no charge to the public.
“I guess my wife got the idea to get it going and people were interested and then we were talking about charging and I said, well you know the goal of the ruritan is to do community service in our ruritans,” Franklin Jones, of Doswell, a lifetime director of the Doswell Ruritan Club said. “So, what better community service than to let the people use the building.”
So far, the class has attracted participants from Caroline, Hanover, and Henrico counties with an average turn out of about 25-30 people per night. Participants are learning dances to more than just classic and modern country songs. They dance to “Cupid Shuffle” and even learned a challenging routine to the pop song, “Fireball,” by Pitbull.
Marion Renner of Hanover said she joined the class to be more physically active and to work on her dance skills.
“It’s laid back, you don’t feel like you’re being judged if you mess up,” Renner said in an interview.
After hearing about the class from friends, Karen Krump of Doswell became interested in the class because she loves to dance, wanted more exercise for her family, and enjoys being part of a close-knit community.
“I get to see people that I haven’t seen in a long time, so I get to kind of fellowship with them and talk to them and things like that,” Krump explained. “So, it just kind of brings everybody back together in the community.”
The class is led by local couple, Bobby and Judy Chiles, of Beaverdam. Judy Chiles has been dancing most of her life and one thing she wants to make sure her students learn in class is proper technique.
“I won’t let you leave here without understanding exactly how something goes,” Judy Chiles stated. “I’m going to show it to you right.”
When preparing her lesson for each week, Judy Chiles said she wants to make sure she is teaching songs and dances that participants will enjoy, hear regularly, and will be able to remember.
According to Judy Chiles, the couple has been dancing together about 30 years after Bobby Chiles made the decision to join in on the musical fun. After joining Judy Chiles for dancing at Valentine’s Day celebration at a local line dancing club one year, Bobby Chiles decided he could handle learning to dance, too.
“When I went, and carried her her candy and flowers or whatever there was a guy there about my age now, so I would say about 65-years-old, he did swing with two women,” Bobby Chiles explained. “And when she came back I said, ‘if he can dance with two women, I can dance with one.’”
From that beginning decision, the couple has gone on to train in ballroom dance and compete around the country in country and swing dance. Over the years, dancing has become an integral part of the couple’s relationship as it has allowed them to travel and spend quality time together.
“I think basically the comradery with her and learning with her and doing whatever we do together,” Bobby Chiles said of his wife. “And we can go anywhere in the country and do it wherever and so we just have a lot of fun.”
Not only is dancing an important part of the couple’s relationship, but it is also one way they give back to the community. Judy Chiles explained that teaching this class for free was something they felt they could do for their community.
“People couldn’t come and bring their children to a ballroom studio because it’s crazy expensive and I figure if Judy and Franklin Jones are willing to donate their time and they’re willing to pay the expenses for the heat and the lights and everything in this building, then the least I can do is give them an hour or two every now and then,” Judy Chiles stated.
In addition to giving their time at the Doswell Ruritan Club, Bobby and Judy Chiles also use their gift of dance with the Hanover County Day Support program. They help throw parties for the participants with mental and physical disabilities.
“We get them on the floor and make sure they’re okay. We just did a Valentine’s party at Day Support,” Judy Chiles said.
For Bobby and Judy Chiles, dancing is about having fun and giving the community an equalizing opportunity to socialize together.
“It levels the playing field because when you go out to dance it doesn’t matter if you’re a lawyer or a janitor,” Judy Chiles stated. “Everybody’s on the same level.”
“I just hope they have fun,” Bobby Chiles explained. “Have a good time, put a smile on your face, and go for it.”
The line dancing class continues until March 27 at the Doswell Ruritan Club. The club will be hosting their annual dance on April 1 from 8 p.m. tomidnight with performances by local band, Patsy & the Country Classics. Tickets are $10 at the door and food and drinks will be sold inside.