WALLKILL—Wallkill’s senior citizens were jiving to the sounds of the Hudson Valley Swingers orchestra on one of many Tuesdays at the town’s Community Center. About 50 people came to enjoy the music and dance to big band music on Aug. 30.
Couples arrived, groups of friends, and singles who quickly found partners for the regular Tuesday afternoon event. A group from a local nursing home brought residents who listened and sometimes moved to the music with partners.
Paul and Margaret Weimer have been coming to the afternoon dance fest for about a month. “It’s relaxed. It’s good exercise,” Margaret said. “It’s nice to see people and get out.”
Janet Slovitsky and Marion Tritschler came to be inspired by the music. “I love the music of the forties, fifties, and sixties,” Slovitsky said. “It just brings me back to my childhood. As they play, I just visualize all the old musicals.”
Tritschler said, “I just like to dance.” She asked her husband if he liked to dance before they married. “He didn’t know his right foot from his left foot, but we married anyway.” She said she likes all kinds of dancing.
Slovitsky said she likes the Latin beat. “We used to go to the Palladium and go to all the dances when I was in Brooklyn.”
Rosemary Mazza regularly attends the afternoon dances and appreciates the live orchestra. She said she loves the ballroom dancing. “It’s such a difference to have the live music.”
Carol Toro comes every week. She likes to come because “everybody is wonderful and the music is spectacular. It’s a lot to get for free.”
Sal Barbado makes a point of dancing with every available lady. He calls himself an “incurable romantic. I hear these wonderful lyrics from the band and I’m with these so charming women. How could I resist?”
Marilyn Conklin, manager of the Hudson Valley Swingers, plays the keyboard and gives the tempo to the other musicians. She said the 14-member band has been at the community center for about 30 years, playing almost every Tuesday as a community service.
Most of the musicians are music teachers and play when they have the opportunity. “We all love to play, and that’s why we do it,” Conklin said. She said the hallmark of the band is that “we are so loyal to each other.”
Of all the performing arts, dance is the one that has emerged as the most therapeutic when it comes to staving off the mental and physical ravages of old age. It is simple and inexpensive—a space, music, and the ability to move around to the music.
Even better than dancing in the privacy of your own home, a public dance allows social interactions that older individuals sometimes miss.
Len Goodman, the television celebrity who judges the popular “Dancing With the Stars,” believes dance is the perfect way to combine exercise with enjoyment.
“If you’re married it’s something you can share with your other half, and if you’re single it gives you an opportunity to meet other people,” he said in an interview on the AgeUK website. “We’re all living longer, so we have all got to be more active in the third age.”
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