For Gary and Mercedes Naumann, and Wayne and Donna Holcomb, line-dancing next to each other led to a new step: Romance.
That was followed by a big step: Marriage.
The retired Belleville couples polished their moves on and off the dance floor at the PSOP senior center in downtown Belleville.
The weekly 1:30 p.m. Wednesday class is typically filled with as many as 50 seniors swinging hips, twisting, turning and practicing the sometimes complicated step patterns.
Socializing is almost as much a part of the class as is grooving to a Garth Brooks song.
"I had been there for lessons before and Gary wanted me to come" that particular week, said Wayne, 74, of meeting Donna Walthes during a 2006 class. A retired civilian procurement specialist for the Department of Defense, he was divorced and a lifelong friend of Gary's.
"A friend brought me," said Donna, 65, a retired Mascoutah school teacher and a widow. "We knew each other for a year before we started dating."
They discovered a passion for partner dancing -- "We do that on Thursday nights at the Moose in Swansea," she said. They also ride bikes.
"I didn't think I'd get married," Donna said. "Now we practice dancing on the patio."
Wayne grinned. "I swept her off her feet." They married in 2009. Between them, they have four children and seven grandchildren.
"Donna is the better dancer," said Wayne as he and Donna sat with about a dozen fellow line-dancers inside Margarita's in downtown Belleville. It's their regular gathering spot after class.
"They reserve us a table every week. We come here and talk and catch up. Have a margarita or a soda. They keep us in chips and salsa."
Across from them sat Gary and Mercedes.
They also met in 2006. Gary, a widower, and widow Mercedes Huffman ended up at the same weekly senior line-dance class in Fairview Heights.
"I was there with Wayne and she was there with a friend. Wayne was talking to her friend and we just stood there," said Gary, 74, a retired letter carrier. "I asked her, 'Do you know how to dance?' I hadn't danced with anyone but my wife for 38 years."
He paused and turned to Mercedes and grinned. "You didn't turn me down. ... She said it was about time."
Mercedes laughed. After dancing, they all went out and had something to eat together, "and then we went on our way," she said.
The weekly PSOP class was the place to be seen.
"We saw each other sometimes at line dances," said Mercedes, 76. "We got to know each other."
Neither was looking for romance, but "I had a lot of fun with him," said the retired secretary.
After they attended a music festival in St. Louis together, he told her, "Well, I guess we're becoming friends."
Gary said he was the one who felt a bit of urgency to get married.
"We were pushing 70 -- and there's not a lot of time left! You have kids, but the house is empty." Between them, there are seven children and 13 grandchildren. They married in 2007.
Both couples said they eased into the idea of getting married.
"We just started talking about it," said Wayne.
"We decided to get married, but not right away," Gary said. He and Mercedes ordered a ruby ring, which was her birthstone.
"When I got it, I took it to her. I got down on one knee in her apartment. ... She worked part-time at Macy's then and wanted to show it to the girls."
Wayne and Gary were each other's best men.
And yes, there was dancing at both weddings.