HANNIBAL, Mo. -- Debbie Holland had never danced before her 39th birthday, but at the urging of a friend, she broke that streak and attended a clogging class.
Twenty-three years later, Holland's white clogging shoes, equipped with two-piece metal taps on the heel and toe, are well-worn.
"It's good exercise," she said, "and you develop great camaraderie with the other dancers."
Those reasons are why she, and several others in Hannibal, have stuck with the folk dance style for more than two decades as part of the city's longstanding Hometown Rhythm clogging group. The dancers are looking to share clogging with others and began offering weekly Monday beginner classes June 4.
"We like to say that among the 11 of us (regular dancers), we have 250 combined years of clogging experience," Holland said with a laugh.
"The turnout that we've had so far with our beginner classes is great, and we enjoy teaching others how to do this."
Connie Craig used to clog regularly, but then she packed away her dance shoes for a while. To help her get reacquainted with clogging, she's been attending the new beginner classes.
"I attended a local program on folk music years ago and learned about clogging that way," she said.
"It feels great to get back into it. It's fun exercise, and it's a good group of ladies who are teaching you."
Nearly 10 others joined Craig at the beginner class held Monday evening at 403 Broadway downtown. Several were mother-daughter and mother-son pairs, and participants ranged from age 8 through more than 60 years old.
Sherie Shaw, an experienced clogger and one of the group's instructors, stood at the front of the dance room and showed people the basics of how to clog.
"Rock, step, rock, step," she explained, punctuating her steps with a metallic "tap."
The Hometown Rhythm's primary instructor and group leader recently retired, members said, so everybody acts as an instructor to beginner and seasoned dancers alike. Following beginner classes, intermediate and experienced dancers filter in for their respective class times.
"We're a pretty competitive bunch. We'll be performing in Branson (Mo.) in August, so we're rehearsing for that, and we also do a lot of traveling and workshops in Missouri, Illinois and elsewhere," 26-year clogging veteran Kathy Richards said. "Clogging is something we really enjoy, and we're excited to be able to share this with others."
For more information about Hometown Rhythm and beginner clogging classes, contact Richards by dialing 573-795-6421.