10 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

Has the snow and cold got you down? Cheer up: Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you can’t have any fun. From snowshoeing and swing dancing to bargain shopping, we’ve got ideas on how to defend yourself against the winter doldrums


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2. [Dance!]



woodstock tango It takes two: Couples get up close and personal at Woodstock Tango

So you think you can’t dance? Linda and Chester Freeman believe otherwise. The co-owners of Got 2 Lindy have successfully taught swing (also known as lindy or jitterbug) and ballroom dance to many a beginner. This modern-day Fred and Ginger hold four-week classes in locations around the Valley (Kingston, Stone Ridge, Poughkeepsie, Highland) as well as a monthly dance in Port Ewen.

“I always say that dance is the best thing you can do for yourself physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially,” says Linda, a former executive director for a global outplacement company who traded her desk for dancing shoes in 2004. “A lot of people who take our classes have just experienced some life change. Some just moved to the area or got a divorce, or the kids just went to college. They have the freedom and time to do something they always wanted to do.”

If you’ve always wanted to try tango, be forewarned: It’s extremely addictive. Just ask anyone at Tango Under the Tent, a group of Argentine tango enthusiasts who really do meet under a tent in Orange County in warm weather but come indoors for winter on the first, second, and fourth Saturdays of each month. Arrive at 7:30 p.m. for a free lesson, then dance at a milonga (dance party) from 8 p.m. to midnight.

jay unger and molly masonFolk musicians Jay Unger and Molly Mason host dance camps in Ulster County

Farther north, Woodstock Tango has established a new outpost in Poughkeepsie at the Body Bar. You don’t need experience or a partner, just a pair of smooth-soled shoes. This eight-week, 75-minute beginner’s course (followed by a complimentary half-hour practice session) is taught by Woodstock Tango founder Ilene Marder, who stresses that this is “Buenos Aires club-style tango, which is social dancing — not tango stage or ballroom, like you’d see on Dancing With the Stars. Learning a thousand steps is not the idea — the idea is to connect with the person you are dancing with. Tango is a conversation, so you have to concentrate. A lot of people compare it to a meditation — some people call it the Tango Zone.” Marder cites two research studies that suggest tango improves balance and enhances your memory and ability to multitask. Hey, maybe you can get your boss to pay for it.

You could also go on a dance retreat of sorts: Folk musicians and WAMC radio personalities Jay Ungar and Molly Mason (hosts of Dancing on the Air) offer a chance to learn some new dance steps (and instruments) at their Ashokan Fiddle and Dance Camps in Olivebridge. The four-day, three-night New Year’s camp has workshops in Cajun waltz, swing dance, and contradance, a 200-year-old line dance that is making a trendy comeback. “There’s a real community that develops while people are here,” says Mason. Their Web site lists other community dances, including the get-together every first Friday of the month at the Woodstock Community Center, hosted by Cajun folk group Cleoma’s Ghost. Lessons in Cajun two-step, waltz, jitterbug, and line dance are included.

If you can’t make up your mind, check out the sampler class offered by Diane and Gary Kurtz of Just Dance 5678. Cha-cha, hustle, merengue, fox-trot, waltz, country two-step, tango, and even belly dancing are part of the mix during the one-hour classes held in Newburgh, New Windsor, Cornwall, Fishkill, and Pine Bush. “I’m receiving calls from couples who want to take belly dance lessons to add those movements to their Latin dancing,” says Diane. Betcha you don’t see that on Dancing with the Stars.

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