After 31 years in the classroom as a life science teacher, Kim McCarthy has traded in her microscopes and lesson plans for the Wobble, the Cupid Shuffle and Booty Call.
Like so many UFT retirees, she has found her life’s “second act” and is “having a blast.”
Right after retirement in 2013, McCarthy signed up for salsa and belly dancing classes at the Bronx Si Beagle Center, but was always on the lookout for an urban line dancing class. When she didn’t find one, she created one that has grown into two Si Beagle classes.
Now, there’s a waiting list every semester to get into her Rhythm and Blues Line Dancing classes for beginners and advanced terpsichoreans.
Although McCarthy knew most of the popular line dances, she felt she wasn’t quite ready to teach a class so she checked the internet, found the latest dances, learned them, practiced them and now she stays one step ahead of her students with the very latest steps.
The special attraction of line dancing is that you don’t need a partner, so at communal celebrations like weddings and bar mitzvahs you can just join in — meaning women generally outnumber men on the dance floor.
“I look forward to my two hours of fun and exercise every Thursday and make sure I sign up the minute the new Si Beagle catalog comes out,” retiree Rosalind Logan said. She describes McCarthy’s teaching method as “bubbly and bright” and noted, “She laughs with us, not at us, and we have a good time trying to meet her high expectations.”
Logan assures newcomers: “Even with bad knees, you can line dance.”
McCarthy describes the dance moves as “a two-hour aerobic class.”
She remembers her 15 minutes of fame when, as an audience member for an episode of Harry Connick Jr.’s TV show, “Harry,” she was interviewed during a preshow warmup.
“When I told the MC I went to senior centers to dance, but no one can keep up with me,” she explained, “he grabbed my hand and off we danced. For weeks, friends told me they saw me on TV.”
Her Si Beagle dancers have become so accomplished they perform at senior centers and churches. They will be featured at the UFT’s New Retirees Luncheon at the New York Hilton in midtown Manhattan on Nov. 26.
Are you or do you know a UFT retiree who has pursued a new passion or career following retirement? Tell us at firstname.lastname@example.org.