UNSUNG HEROES Dancing the Pandemic Blues Away: Yvonne McChristian

Tuesday, May 12, 2020
Kickin' it up to the oldies and the newer dance tunes out in the Meadowlark Drive area when she can is Yvonne McChristian.
T-G Photo by Dawn Hankins

There are some “Unsung Heroes” in life who just opt to Cha-cha-cha their way through a pandemic, and, as a result, make people feel better in the process. Meet Meadowlark Drive resident, Yvonne McChristian, who has been hosting line dancing classes in her neighborhood during the pandemic.

“You’ve got to find some joy today,” the 75-year-old, dressed in her favorite jeans and sneakers, advises.

At least once-a-week, depending on the weather forecast, Yvonne and several of her neighbors get together (at least 6-feet apart for social distancing purposes) in their neighborhood for a toe taping line dance class. Yvonne says it doesn’t take a lot of equipment, normally just her boom box, or her hand-held digital player, a long extension cord to ignite moving feet to the beat of the “Cuban Shuffle.”

“To the right, to the right, to the right, to the right

To the left, to the left, to the left, to the left

Now kick, now kick, now kick, now kick

Now walk it by yourself, now walk it by yourself.”

The neighborhood exercise party started recently when Yvonne, who’s well-known for her dance classes at the Senior Citizens Center, was sitting outside with a friend, face masks in tow, and talking about how to overcome depression and boredom during quarantine.

The rest is history, as far as the Meadowlark Drive residents are concerned. Yvonne’s got a hot pick T-shirt to prove it’s been successful.

“The first time, about 18 people came out.”

In the era of social distancing, Yvonne says she had to back down her class number to 10. Another lady, she recalls, began a second dance class in another area.

Line dancing, or, soul dancing, as she prefers to call her moves, is an exercise that this Shelbyville senior has immersed herself in the last nine years. She’s also taken her dancing to nursing homes and led classes at the Shelbyville Recreation Center.

“I tell folks if they don’t have a partner to dance with, just dance with the door knob.”

This retiree recalls when she was employed at Josten’s, she would develop plays which the employees would act out at Christmas. A little step here and some pom poms way up high, she advises, goes a long way toward creating a more joyful journey in this life.

Yvonne says she’s always been athletic, playing softball and basketball; she stopped softball a few years ago when the Senior Citizens Olympics ended.

“I hope they can reinstate that,” she says.

She isn’t a certified aerobics teacher or a physical fitness expert. She just knows there’s something amazing about seeing a lot of smiling and laughing people while doing the “Watusi.

People, especially those who know this “Unsung Hero,” trust her to put on a great hour of dance moves. She laughs when she says they look forward to “Shake Your Tail Feather.”

It’s in her blood, she says, as she’s from the generation that grew up dancing to “The Stroll,” “The Continental” and watching American Bandstand on T.V. Every once-in-a-while, Yvonne will bring out some of the oldies, but she’s also real quick to learn newer tunes like “The Biker Shuffle” too.

Her Meadowlark neighbors got kind of rained out this week. But still, Yvonne believes her line dancing has lifted spirits during a dark time. She knows that many of her neighbors were beginning to feel depressed over COVID-19 before they started to coming outside and dancing with her and others.

“It’s gotten people out of their houses and lifted their spirits. This [pandemic] is affecting a lot of people.”

Some, she says, have shared how much they’ve enjoyed the neighborhood block/dance party. While there may not be any rising stars, like The Temptations, in her crowd, Yvonne says it has provided a healthy social gathering time for members of her community.

“I like to laugh . . . have fun and make other people happy through my dancing.”