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Bruin couple still side by side, tearing up the floor

Herb and Barb Horner, who teach line dancing and two-step dancing, dance the “River Waltz” a Butler Two Steppers event. Submitted Photo

Herb and Barb Horner met at a square dance in 1977, and they haven’t stopped cutting a rug since.

Once the hoe down style of square dancing they preferred fell out of fashion around 1980, the Bruin couple took up two-step dancing.

Two-step dance sees couples completing identical steps as they move across the floor together.

When their two-step group started declining in membership, they took up line dancing, which they continue to pursue three or four times per week.

They learned line dancing from Denny and Dolly Geibel, who taught the hobby at the Bruin Volunteer Fire Department. The Horners began taking lessons in 1989.

They then moved to lessons at the Rimersburg Hose Company fire hall, which is in Clarion County about 15 minutes from Bruin.

“It was hard to catch on at first,” Barb said of line dancing, which sees an entire crowd of dancers moving in unison to various songs.

“It takes three to six months to really learn how to line dance,” Herb said.

The Horners began teaching line dancing in 2015 at the Rimersburg fire hall, and they have taught scores of folks the steps to hundreds of songs since then.

Classes at the firehall are open to anyone of any age or skill level from 7 to 8:30 p.m. every Tuesday evening.

Herb has 2,000 songs on his laptop that he brings to classes, where he also serves as DJ. He also uses songs from copperknob.com, which is a popular line-dancing website.

Popular line dances are “Swamp Thang,” “Dizzy,” “Bartender Stomp,” “Electric Slide” and “The Cupid Shuffle,” he said.

“There are new ones all the time,” Barb said.

The Horners also teach partner-style line dancing at the Rimersburg fire hall, which sees couples doing the same steps while holding hands in a side-by-side position.

“No one around here teaches that anymore,” Herb said.

She said mainly beginners attend their lessons in Rimersburg, where they observe the more experienced dancers as they step to the music.

“We’ll go slow for the new dancers,” Herb said. “How fast we go depends on who’s there.”

But they don’t allow much sitting and watching.

“We tell the beginners to get up and follow along as best you can,” Herb said.

The Horners also send links to beginners from youtube.com that break down the steps so newbies can practice at home.

The classes now have folks from age 12 to 83 coming to learn from the Horners.

Herb said some newcomers get discouraged with their skills and don’t return, while others get hooked right away.

“We tell people ‘Don’t get frustrated. This takes three to six months to really get into it,’” he said.

The Horners belong to Butler Two Steppers, Clarion Scoot ‘n Boots, and Rimersburg Country Steppers.

Barb said regulars always brings a snack to lessons or dances.

“Oh, there’s always food,” she said. “You’re supposed to take a snack, but it ends up being a potluck.”

On the most recent lesson night, Barb made a Dolly Parton cake and sloppy Joes.

The Horners regularly attend three local dances each month, at the Rimersburg Hose Company on second and third Fridays and at the Tanglewood Center in Butler Township on the fourth Friday. The Butler Two-Steppers host the latter event.

“They’re scheduled that way so everyone can go,” Barb said of the three dances.

Lifelong dancers

Barb said she always liked to dance, and she recalls Guy Travaglio coming to Moniteau High School six decades ago to spin records at student dances.

She said students could send requests to Travaglio, who would play the selections at the Moniteau dances.

Herb said he did not attend dances at his alma mater, Karns City High School, but has been square dancing since he was 3 years old.

“I went to dances with my Mum and Dad,” he said.

Barb said line dancing gets the couple out and moving.

Herb also appreciates the physical aspect of line dancing.

“It’s exercise, but not strenuous exercise,” he said. “It gets people out having fun and enjoying themselves.”

The Horners also continue to square dance, mainly at Harrisville Volunteer Fire Department, barns, and a rustic wedding venue in Beaver County.

The various Butler County 4-H groups also hold square dances at the Butler Farm Show that the Horners attend.

“Everybody is friendly, no matter where you dance,” Herb said. “I’ve never seen any fights or even an argument.”

The couple can still move gracefully across the dance floor, and they plan on doing so indefinitely.

“Until we can’t dance anymore,” Barb said.

Barb and Herb Horner demonstrate the graceful “River Waltz” in the kitchen of their Bruin home. Submitted Photo

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