Have you ever done a line dance? Or perhaps you’ve seen a line dance group and been intrigued by their rhythmic movements and coordination? Well, there’s a very special dance group in town, The Hadley Park Line Dancers, who dance together and perform all over the city of Nashville and surrounding areas. What makes this dance group so unique is that it was formed by and consists of mostly older adults, with their oldest dancer being 93-years young.
Hadley Park Line Dancers, also lovingly known by members of the Nashville community as HPLD, was formed in 2008 under the leadership of Pat Patterson and JoAnn Jones, who transferred leadership to former Tennessee State University basketball star Sharon Jarrett in 2014. HPLD’s mission is simple: to utilize dance as a platform to encourage older adults to engage in dance movement towards a healthier lifestyle. “We’re movin’ and groovin’ and we’re healthier for it,” said Jarret, lead dance instructor. “Our minds are strong because we socialize and help each other, and our bodies are stronger because we move.”
Starting with only a handful of dancers, HPLD has grown over the years and currently has over 100 dancers and three lead instructors. Under the leadership of Jarrett and co-lead instructors, Robert Burton, of Clarksville, Tenn., and James Boyd of Nashville, Tenn., who are all aging adults, HPLD has increased their weekly dance sessions to free classes four days a week and opened their classes to younger adults. HPLD has raised the bar of an average dance group by doing community service (donating their time, talent, and efforts), for so many organizations. HPLD has performed all over Nashville showing off their dancing skills at churches, universities, charity events, parks, festivals, birthday parties, schools, and numerous other venues like Nashville Nursing Homes, and at the AARP Luncheon. They’ve also won several dance competitions and worked with some important community, entertainment, and civic leaders like Country Music Hall of Famer Jimmy Church, Senator Brenda Gilmore, Councilwoman Sharon Hurt, Civil rights leader Venita Lewis, American songwriter and DJ Willie Perry, Jr. aka DJ Casper (“Mr. Cha Cha”) and former mayor David Briley.
“We’ve been so blessed to have so many wonderful opportunities,” said Jarrett. “And we’ve had a lot of fun.”
However, in 2020 their fun was cut short due to the “Shelter in Place” mandate in Davidson County amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Like many organizations, Hadley Park Community Center (and Seniors’ Program), who have provided their gym for years for HPLD’s usage, had to close their doors to public use. Unfortunately, because of the center closing and for precautionary measures, the line dancers were unable to gather to do what they do best, dance.
“We have been on hold because of COVID-19,” said Jarret. “Our dancers couldn’t dance together, and for some of us, that is our means of socializing, so it was hard; but we’re glad that we’re safe and alive.” Jarret went on to state that since the pandemic began, HPLD has lost some great line dancers either due to COVID-19 or other illnesses.
Last month, HPLD received some great news that they would be dancing together again. Recently Hadley Park re-opened their doors to limited capacity and safety guidelines for the older adults.
“We can’t wait to get back to a normal routine again,” said Jarret. “We are always looking for opportunities to dance and perform and showcase our talents.”
HPLD classes have restarted in the Hadley Park gym, under strict COVID-19 protocol, on Mondays and Wednesdays from 5:30-7 p.m. Jarrett says that she and the dancers can’t wait to be able provide the day classes as well. “We’re happy to have a space to dance again, no matter the restrictions,” said Jarrett. “We’re just excited to get healthy, fellowship and have fun in the process!”
Hadley Park Line Dance classes are free and open to the public at Hadley Park Community Center, 1037 28th Ave. N, Nashville, Tenn., 37208.