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Dance lessons with a twist for Wadena couple

Sam Foust, right, along with wife Lora, takes dance lessons from instructor Paul Mathieu every Tuesday at the Promenade Ballroom in Perham. Joe Bowen/Forum News Service

PERHAM — “Whenever we hear a song on the radio now, we think, ‘Is that a two-step or a waltz or what?’ ” joked Sam Foust last week as he and his wife, Lora, got ready for their weekly dancing lesson at Promenade Ballroom.

The Fousts have been taking dance lessons from Paul Mathieu, owner of the ballroom, since October, when Lora won the lessons in a charity auction.

They’re learning all sorts of turns, steps and new moves, but there’s one major twist in their dance routine — Sam is blind.

Off the dance floor, he requires the use of a leader dog, and Lora’s assistance when necessary.

But once he hits the dance floor, his leader dog, Sadie, becomes a wallflower, sitting quietly among the tables, patiently waiting for him.

And instead of Lora helping him get around, he gets to lead her for a change.

No one would ever guess that Sam is blind while watching him waltz across the Promenade’s dance floor. He moves with confidence, and clearly enjoys dancing.

Sam’s favorite dances are the two-step, the polka and, “I guess we’ll slide the waltz in there,” he said with a smile.

The couple take one group lesson and one private lesson per week, both an hour long. The lessons are usually scheduled consecutively to save an additional trip from their home in Wadena, where Lora is an occupational therapist and Sam is in charge of the “honey-do” list, they said with a chuckle.

They are also regulars at the group dances held every Friday night at Promenade.

“We met a new group of friends,” Lora said.

“Doctors to mayors, even some national guardsmen,” Sam added.

In addition to new friends, the lessons have also provided the couple with a new shared hobby they can enjoy together. “I was going to exercise on my own, but that meant less time with Sam,” Lora said. “Now we can both get exercise.”

“What’s fun about the lessons is when you go to dances you’re not sitting and watching,” Sam said.

And not being able to see really limits those options to just plain sitting, he added with a laugh.