I spent the majority of my childhood in Seymour, a small town east of Springfield. One of my favorite memories is the annual Seymour Apple Festival, and one of my earliest memories of the festival is watching a group of clog dancers perform on the town square. I still remember being amazed at how quickly the group moved. They performed the perfect clickity clackity song and dance.
On a recent cold wintry night, I found myself tying up a pair of clog shoes, so I could try out my own clickity clackity dance at Pat’s Clogging Studios (711 W. Farm Rd. 84, Springfield, 417-833-4827, itap2.com). The studio is located off of a farm road in north Springfield, and it’s easy to miss. There’s no sign on the main road, so you have to look closely. After passing the space twice and making a panicked call to Pat Dennis, who owns the company with her husband, Kevin, I finally pulled in around 7 p.m.
On my walk to the door, I watched six red-faced adults inside the studio dance their hearts out, and I heard each of their steps landing in perfect unison with every beat. That’s when I realized that as a clumsy girl who has sprained her ankle while walking across a wide-open gymnasium floor, clogging might be a challenge.
First, Dennis walked me through the basic moves. I learned how to double step, rock step, triple step and push step. With my new moves (kind of) memorized, I joined the rest of the dancers on the next dance.
Dennis put on some music, and I worked my very hardest to keep up with the other dancers and not make a complete fool of myself or fall on the ground. I was able to do a lot of the very basic moves, and hearing my feet land at the same time as everyone else’s was rewarding. As the music got faster, I got a little lost in the shuffle sometimes, but Dennis continued to help me along the way. We watched ourselves in a wall of mirrors, which Dennis says really helps, and I quickly learned clogging takes as much mental work as it does physical. I danced with the class for nearly an hour. We worked our feet and our legs as we kicked, tapped and moved from side to side and front to back, and we even worked our arms while doing hand work at times. And more than anything else, it seemed to be an aerobic exercise. I was sweaty and out of breath by the time we were finished.
Toward the end of the class, Dennis and the dancers taught me some fun old-timey dances, and it was a blast. You know those moments when you can’t help but smile? That was me as, song after song, I scuffed and shuffled my feet across the wood floor smiling with each click of my heels. Clogging was not only a workout, it was truly an experience. I clogged my little heart out, and I can’t wait to try it again.
The 411: Beginner Clogging Classes for All Ages
Where: Pat’s Clogging Studios, 711 W. Farm Rd. 84, Springfield, 417-833-4827, itap2.com
When: 6 p.m. on Tuesdays
Cost: $50 per month, or one class for $12.50
More info: Pat’s Clogging Studios offers clogging for all ages and skill levels and Irish dancing through Celtic Fire Irish Dance Company. Find more information at itap2.com