2009-06-13 / Top News

Boots and Spurs Ring Out on Market Street at Lilac Festival

By Jane Alexander

The West Michigan Bootscooters perform a couples' dance Saturday, June 6, at the Lilac Festival. The West Michigan Bootscooters perform a couples' dance Saturday, June 6, at the Lilac Festival. The clopping sound heard on Market Street last Saturday evening did not come from horses. The West Michigan Bootscooters visited Mackinac Island for a Lilac Festival country line dancing show.

The group performed several dances and asked for audience participation on many others.

Approximately 100 people turned out for the event, which occupied a taped-off portion of Market Street in front of Community Hall.

The West Michigan Bootscooters are a country dancing club that meets once a week in Muskegon. The Bootscooters started in 1999 and performs periodically in parades and events, but mostly meets weekly to learn new dances, introduced by individual members.

"We don't do this just to tour," said Jill Fortenbacher, who heads the Bootscooters with her husband, Jack. "It's a social club. We just dance to have a good time."

The group enjoys clogging, swing, couples dancing, and two- stepping, a partner dance of quick steps done in a counterclockwise circle around the dance floor. Some dances performed Saturday, June 6, include the Tush Push and the Greek Ghost Slide.

Jill and Jack Fortenbacher of the West Michigan Bootscooters show off their outfits at a Lilac Festival country line dancing show Saturday, June 6. Jill and Jack Fortenbacher of the West Michigan Bootscooters show off their outfits at a Lilac Festival country line dancing show Saturday, June 6. Many of the couples wore matching outfits, particularly in shades of purple for the festival. The western dress isn't mandatory, Mrs. Fortenbacher said; it's mostly for public shows.

Bootscooter Richard Schmyebing has been dancing at the Lilac Festival for three years. He says the club is a good form of exercise and a way to fill his time.

"It's an activity for me to do, Mr. Schmyebing said. "I have to work hard at it. I had bypass surgery in 1992 and I needed something to distract myself. I've met a lot of fun people here and it's also great exercise."

Several of the older members joined the club for exercise after the Bootscooters performed at their retirement homes. The club has several younger members as well, particularly relatives and grandchildren of existing Bootscooters.

Visitors join in the fun as the West Michigan Bootscooters teaches the crowd a dance. Visitors join in the fun as the West Michigan Bootscooters teaches the crowd a dance. Bootscooters Marc Sprik and Tom Cole said they didn't expect to join the club when they attended a meeting several years ago.

"Our wives just dragged us along one night, but then we found we actually liked going," Mr. Sprik said. "We're a non-alcoholic, nosmoking group, so we don't get muddled in any of that. We're just here to have fun and dance."

Mr. Cole believes the dances are rewarding.

"It's great exercise. It's tricky, too. There are a lot of steps, but once you start the first couple, it just comes to you."

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