NORMAL — Smashmouth’s hit song “All Star” could be heard blasting from Illinois State University’s Bone Student Center, accompanied by other “instruments” — feet.
More than 100 cloggers from several states danced together Saturday in the Brown Ballroom as part of the Illinois Prairie Clogging Association’s 18th annual clogging workshop. The group hosts events several times a year to connect dancers together.
“We dance from 9 a.m. to 5,” said Judy Gagnon, president of the association. “We also have instructors teaching during the day.”
At the Mardi Gras-themed event, cloggers wore team T-shirts and purple, green and gold to bring the spirit of New Orleans to Normal.
Clogging originated in the Appalachian Mountains region and has evolved into what Gagnon describes as a mix of modern country and modern pop dance. But that doesn’t stop cloggers from dancing to any song that has a good downbeat, she said.
“Ragtime music is very appropriate for the Mardi Gras theme,” said Ken Sung, a veteran clogger and director of Bloomington’s Sugar Creek Cloggers.
All a person needs to begin is a pair of clogging shoes. Veteran clogger Margie Ashburn of Creve Coeur said clubs are available in many communities and often perform at local and state fairs.
“Having two left feet in clogging is not a hindrance,” said Ashburn, who added the only requirement is “just a pretty good set of knees.”
This year’s event featured national clogging champion Chip Summey of Asheville, N.C., who taught several dance classes. Later Saturday evening, cloggers gathered for what they call a “fun dance.”
“I like the fun dance and exhibition,” said 12-year-old Bethany Buikema. “The fun dance plays songs any team knows and anyone can join in.”
Buikema traveled from Wisconsin with her friends, Kira Ebbert and Becca Nowosad, both 12, to take part in the event for the first time.
“You get to meet new people and get a workout,” said Ebbert. “I like to learn new songs and new moves.”