Wedding coming up but you can’t dance? Parks and Rec can help with that

photo by: Elvyn Jones

Bill Daniels takes a few steps with Gina White to show Paul Touyz, right, how to properly rotate a dance partner at a Lawrence Parks and Recreation wedding dance class Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, at the Community Building. KU faculty members Touyz and White are planning an August wedding. Daniels volunteers to help his friend Mike Salerno with the class.

Gina White and Paul Touyz arrived at the Community Building on a recent Sunday with an open mind. They had come for a crash course in dancing put on by the Lawrence Parks and Recreation Department.

The two University of Kansas classics professors are to be married in August in White’s native England. Planning for the wedding is underway, and they thought it might be nice to have music and dancing. The problem: Neither one knows how to dance.

“I have never danced at all,” White said. “It’s going to be a crash course. I think we’ll see how it goes. If we can’t dance, we’ll just do something else (at the wedding).”

Paul Vander Tuig, of Baldwin City, said he enrolled himself and his wife, Sheila, as a Christmas present to her because their daughter Amber is getting married in July. He hoped a little instruction would make them more comfortable dancing at the wedding.

Dancing can cause a lot of anxiety, acknowledged class instructor Mike Salerno. The wedding course that he offers as often as eight times a year is one of many he teaches through Lawrence Parks and Rec. Most couples can shuffle around to music, he said, but a little instruction can take dancing to a magical level.

It can turn the experience into “a beautiful conversation on the dance floor,” he said. “It’s a wonderful thing.”

Salerno started the recent class by carefully demonstrating the five basic foot positions of dance to the 14 couples enrolled. As the class progressed, he introduced more moves, such as turns and spins, often mixing in a bit of humor.

“When the man raises his arm, it’s a cue to the woman to turn, and she keeps turning until he lowers his arm,” he told the class as a female student spun under his raised arm.

Near the end of the three-hour class, White and Touyz said that they were happy with their progress and that dancing would likely be part of their wedding.

“It was fun,” Touyz said. “It was a bit tough, but we improved. We didn’t know anything when we started.”


Welcome to the new Our old commenting system has been replaced with Facebook Comments. There is no longer a separate username and password login step. If you are already signed into Facebook within your browser, you will be able to comment. If you do not have a Facebook account and do not wish to create one, you will not be able to comment on stories.