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Dancing becomes way of life for Winfield resident
By Ron Skrabacz | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 4/8/2009 12:09 AM

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Marcia Parrotte never had much opportunity to dance when she was growing up. Today the Winfield resident is making up for lost time and loving every minute of it.

For almost seven years, Parrotte and her husband, Rich, have been regulars at Cadillac Ranch in Bartlett on the nights when country dancing is the main attraction.

Whether the music calls for line dancing or couples dancing, she is ready to give it a go, and just as eager to help others get in step. Yet it wasn't always that way for her.

Parrotte was born and raised in Nigeria. As the daughter of missionaries, dancing was anything but a family staple.

"I don't have a dancing history at all," she said. "I didn't get to grow up and have ballet and do all those kinds of things like a lot of people have. I know when I watch other people that I consider to be dancers, they have the rhythm right. They have the style. They're centered when they stand. True dancers who have been through the history, they've studied dance."

By the time her family came back to the United States for good, Parrotte already was out of high school. She had the desire to dance, but not much else.

"Once I was back here in America, I wanted to learn how to dance because I thought it looked cool," she said. "I simply didn't know how and had no confidence. The few times in my adult years when I made an effort to try and dance with somebody, I didn't know what to do. I was awkward and uncomfortable and just terrible."

Her odyssey to the Cadillac Ranch dance floor actually began at a roller skating rink that she and Rich often frequented. When she mentioned one night that she liked George Strait's music and would love to be able to dance to it, another couple suggested they join them at Cadillac Ranch for some country dancing.

"The very next Sunday we came with this couple to Cadillac Ranch," she said. "And I didn't just sit there and eat and watch. I was out of my chair, on the edge of the dance floor, trying to do everything. I didn't want to be in anybody's way, but I wanted to try to do this. Of course, I didn't know what I was doing. I was just out there trying to follow and mimic."

Marcia and Rich had discovered a new passion.

"We were hooked from that first night that we went," she said. "We have been faithfully attending basically three nights a week ever since."

On those Sunday, Tuesday and Friday nights, Parrotte is no longer on the edge of the dance floor looking in. With hundreds of nights of experience behind her she is much more apt to be searching for someone else standing on the edge looking to get their boots wet.

"I look around and see who else is maybe too shy, or who think they can't, or they have two left feet, so they don't want to get out on the dance floor," she said. "Those are the kinds of people I'm always looking for. I'll see somebody like me that's trying it on the edge and I'll say, 'Come on, you can do it. Come on, I'll show you.'"

Although Parrotte likes to work on improving her own dancing, it is not uncommon to see her out on the dance floor directing the line dance traffic for those who might be unfamiliar with the sequence of steps. Or she might be off on the side working with a novice dancer on his two Ssep or stationary cha-cha.

Helping others improve is a passion she ranks right up there with personal improvement.

"It's because I want to allow other people, if they don't have enough courage, to get out there on their own," she said. "I want them to have somebody encourage them to try it and see if they like it. And it could become a passion."

That's a philosophy she and Rich both share.

"That's what means so much to both of us, is just to help others have a good time," she said. "That helps us have a good time."

What started out as a passing comment about George Strait has grown into a lifelong activity, as well as a mission - a mission where dancing is a family staple.

"It's for anybody that wants to just have social fun with physical activity," Parrotte said. "There's the exercise, the challenge, and the stimulation of learning something. It's just exhilarating, especially if somebody is lonely out there and sitting at home seven nights a week watching TV. Oh my God! Give up one of those TV nights and come out to dance."