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Senior citizens put on dancing shoes

Every Tuesday morning, the gym at Betty G. Ross Park turns into a dance hall and more than a dozen seniors shake their stuff.
“Just get out there and wiggle around, we ain’t got no certain way,” said Wilma Dellinger, 80, of her and her friends’ dancing style.
For the past 30 years, the gym has been the place to boogie. Square dancing used to be all the rage, but since numbers of participants have declined, freestyle dancing is more common.
And no excuses are taken from those who say they can’t dance. Just ask Lester Burgess, 70, who joined the group this fall.
“I can’t dance,” he said. “I don’t really understand any of it.”
But dance he does.
“I’ll get up there and stomp around with them,” he said.
Men outnumber women in the group, so there’s often a row of females waiting for their turn on the dance floor. Some, however, get tired of waiting.
“They dance by themselves if they can’t get a man out there,” said Betty Ross, 81, the event’s organizer.
While some of the dancers are new, others have been attending the weekly dances for decades.
Mary Lue Crafton, for example, has made many friends and had many dance partners over the years, some of which have passed away.
“We still think of them,” she said. “We’ve had some good times on that floor.”
She and her husband come to the 9:30 a.m. dance from Hickory. She doesn’t mind he spends most of his time dancing with other women.
“If I don’t go get them, she goes gets them for me,” Howard Crafton
The Craftons are the only married couple regularly attending the morning dance sessions. Most of the participants are widows or widowers. That doesn’t mean, however, they’re hoping to get married again.
“I’m single, but I’m not looking,” said Edna Boyles, 77. “I’ve done said ‘I do’ enough, honey.”
That said, there are others in the group who wouldn’t be opposed to meeting someone nice.
“I’m just looking now,” Burgess said.
Over the past 30 years, many married couples met and courted at the gym. Now the feeling is more about fellowship.
“We’re just brothers and sisters,” said Mary Lue Crafton. “We look forward to seeing each other every Tuesday morning.”
There is, however, hugging every now and again.
“That does feel good – to hold them, give a good hug,” said Walker Black, 88, an avid dancer.
The group of friends celebrates each other’s birthdays every month and supports one another through hard times.
They also share a love of old country music.
“I like it all,” said Beulah Reynolds, 84, of the music played during the dancing.
That said, she prefers “fast-going” tunes.
“But slow’s all right for us. We move kind of slowly,” she said.
And while some may move slowly, they still love to dance.
“It’s the best exercise,” Ross said.
Want to go? Dancing is held at the gym at Betty G. Ross Park every Tuesday morning beginning at 9:30 a.m. Refreshments are provided and everyone is welcome.
by Sarah Grano

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