Dancing partners, just a two-step away
There’s Vern and Bee (they dance like a dream) and Virginia in pink. There’s Dorothy, there’s Bobby, there’s Michael jazzing up every two-step he dances.
Oh, the list could go on, two dozen names at least — grandmothers and great-grandfathers, veterans, retirees, people in the high double-digits, age-wise, but does that matter? Just look at them dance.
The lights are off because it’s Sunday afternoon and a glow filters into Grand Junction’s Senior Recreation Center, spilling random puddles of sunlight on the pale tile floor. A three-piece band, led by Virginia Lionberger on piano, plays music for a lively two-step. They all know the song.
She puts her hand on his shoulder, he lays his on her waist. Whoever they are this time around, whatever couple they are, this is how it’s done. They clasp hands. He leads. Two to the right, one to the left, two to the right, one to the left.
Around the dance floor they glide, changing directions, gentle spins, making way for other couples.
Here’s Vern Lambert and Bee Grassia. They’re both 82, but you’d never know it. They’ve been together seven years.
“We met here at the Center,” Vern says. “She’d been a widow for two years.”
“And we’d been friends, we’d eat lunch here. But it took me a while ‘til I was ready,” she says.
“So, one day I said, ‘Would you like to go dancing?”
“I said, ‘I’d love to’.”
First and third Sundays at 1 p.m. and every Thursday night at 8, they’re here dancing. Sometimes on Sundays, after the dance ends at 4 p.m., a group of them goes to Texas Roadhouse. They all know each other. Most have been coming to the dances for years. Newbies are quickly assimilated.
There goes Dorothy Maigatter in her silver sandals. She turned 89 this year. She lost her husband 18 years ago, and figured she had some options: She could close the drapes and lock the doors and fade away, or she could dance. Fourteen years ago, she and a friend cut their first rug together at the Center dances.
It’s reminiscent of Grange Halls and slow songs at the USO. He wears slacks with creases and a shiny belt. She powders her nose and wears Sunday best. Steps are slower than they used to be, but there’s no need to hurry.
“I wouldn’t know what to do if I had to dance alone,” Vern says. “I like to touch a girl when I dance.”
Vern, you hound dog.
“I guess I should say, I like to hold her in my arms.”
Partners change with every dance. That’s the way it goes here. It’s great to come in pairs, but it’s great to come single, too. Virginia Taylor comes almost every time. She wouldn’t mind having a regular dance partner, but it’s not easy finding a man of suitable age who likes to dance. (Gentlemen, take heed: She can dance AND she’s a looker. Yowza.)
So, she comes and she dances. Around the floor they go, the two-step, the fox trot, the occasional waltz.
Bobby Koloff takes a break from dancing to sing “Could I Have This Dance.” Michael Gulliford requests “Cowboys Aren’t Supposed to Cry” and heads his partner in a lively two-step — step, step, kicky little flourish, spin, dip, step, twirl, taking in the whole floor, making jokes.
The sun shines, the music plays, and they dance.