The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Currents

June 13, 2013

Head couple

Le Sueur's Floyd and Judy Engelhardt take the lead for the state square and round dance convention

(Continued)

Floyd added: "It became a way of getting an evening out for the two of us."

With four young children and little time to themselves, Floyd and Judy secured a babysitter every Sunday night to go out square dancing. They started with no lessons and little expertise.

"We jumped in and took off running," Floyd said.

After moving to Minnesota and getting heavily involved with the square dancing club in Le Sueur, Floyd and Judy took a hiatus when that club folded in 1988. With their children getting older, they had less time for square dancing and hung up their shoes for a decade.

But in 1998, they committed themselves once again to the activity that still remains popular, both for its social as well as physical benefits. Health experts say square dancing burns upward of 200 calories in 30 minutes. In addition, an oft-cited study that appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2003 showed that frequent dancing is as good or better than mental activities in warding off dementia.

"We are challenging ourselves to make sure we don't get too old, too soon," Judy said.

When the United Square Dancers of America announced a program challenging couples to dance in all 50 states in order to promote greater interaction between local clubs and dancers in 2002, Floyd and Judy began making their national tour official.

Whenever they took a road trip out of town -- to visit children in Colorado and Arizona, or a brother in Florida for instance -- they always chose a route that would carry them into a state they had yet to mark off their checklist.

In 2005, they danced in 12 states as part of a tour of the Northeast. When they visited Alaska, they contacted local square dancing clubs to set up a special dance just so they could cross the elusive state off their list. They crossed off Hawaii during a national convention a few years ago and have planned weekend trips just to dance in a new state. If that's not enough, Floyd and Judy have danced in Germany, Costa Rica and eight Canadian provinces.

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