Calgary’s social-distancing dance trend continues to take on new forms and scale new heights during the coronavirus.
Just days before Mayor Nenshi told Calgary of an extension to the COVID-19 public events ban, Sybille “Bille” Mikaelsen summoned 10 of her friends to the Gulf Canada Square Parkade around 7 p.m. to join in the daily show of appreciation for front line workers.
Their gesture of choice? Roof-top line-dancing.
- ‘A wake up call for all of us’: No new COVID-19 restrictions for Calgary
- Patio pints: Calgary pub operators bank on hardy crowds for winter buzz
- Calgary’s Next Economy: Nutrimeals delivers a ‘home-cooked’ meal convenience
“We thought we could just join the other people in the Beltline celebrating with noise makers, and if that went well, then maybe we could do a little dance to support the healthcare workers,” Mikaelsen said.
Mikaelsen, an employee with the Calgary Parking Authority, knew most of the parkades around the city would be empty. She double-checked with the boss before sending out the call to arms.
The group was sworn to secrecy, just to be safe, she said.
“With line dancing, you’re already standing fairly far apart, so we knew we weren’t breaking any rules there,” she said.
“But we still made very sure to not tell anyone what we were doing, because I was worried people would start showing up out of out nowhere, and we’d get shut down before we even started.”
Mikaelsen wasn’t even sure if anyone would see what they were doing, let alone that someone would film it.
“I actually don’t even know who or where we were being filmed from,” she said.
“But we started hearing shouts and cheers and thought maybe we can bring some smiles to people by doing this?”
Bringing in Sean Buckley for the hoedown
Prior to the nation-wide lockdown, Mikaelsen and her friends would spend their Friday nights line-dancing at Ranchman’s Cookhouse and Dancehall, where she met line-dancing instructor Sean Buckley.
Mikaelsen asked Buckley to lead the squad in their roof-top hoedown, and he jumped at the idea.
“Bille and I have been dancing together for years at Ranchman’s, and I thought man, this would be such a good chance to get to see everyone and do some of the old classics,” he said.
“Even though we couldn’t actually be together, we could at least be in the same space.”
Buckley, a massage therapist by trade, started offering his line-dancing lessons online once social distancing rules came into place. He also has the added twist of including sign language in his lessons.
“I’ve been slowly learning sign language for years, and I couldn’t help but feel bad for my deaf friends who have that extra restriction to deal with during this time,” he said.
“When I suggested signing during my lessons, they all seemed really into it.”
Though the group kept tight lipped about their performance, several cars pulled into the parkade. That led the group to think the party was over.
“All these cars pulled in, so we thought what to do we do? I guess just keep dancing!” said Buckley
“They were just taking photos of the tower behind us, but we totally thought we were busted.”
Next live show… after the coronavirus
Buckley said that while they probably won’t attempt another live performance until things quiet down, he hopes these little acts of fun leave a positive impression on anyone who sees them.
“The ongoing feeling right now is that so much is lost, so much is taken away, so much is gone,” he said.
“But so much is still around us that’s easy to miss, and when you grab onto it, it brings hope.”
Mikaelsen and Buckley agree that even though times are tough, there’s always ways to keep your spirits up. Even if it takes a little creative thinking.
“Eventually, better days will get even better, but in the meantime, better days are here,” said Buckley.