Every Tuesday morning, the gym at Betty G. Ross Park turns into a dance hall and more than a dozen seniors shake their stuff.
â€œJust get out there and wiggle around, we ainâ€™t got no certain way,â€ said Wilma Dellinger, 80, of her and her friendsâ€™ 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 canâ€™t dance. Just ask Lester Burgess, 70, who joined the group this fall.
â€œI canâ€™t dance,â€ he said. â€œI donâ€™t really understand any of it.â€
But dance he does.
â€œIâ€™ll get up there and stomp around with them,â€ he said.
Men outnumber women in the group, so thereâ€™s often a row of females waiting for their turn on the dance floor. Some, however, get tired of waiting.
â€œThey dance by themselves if they canâ€™t get a man out there,â€ said Betty Ross, 81, the eventâ€™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.
â€œWe still think of them,â€ she said. â€œWeâ€™ve had some good times on that floor.â€
She and her husband come to the 9:30 a.m. dance from Hickory. She doesnâ€™t mind he spends most of his time dancing with other women.
â€œIf I donâ€™t go get them, she goes gets them for me,â€ Howard Crafton
The Craftons are the only married couple regularly attending the morning dance sessions. Most of the participants are widows or widowers. That doesnâ€™t mean, however, theyâ€™re hoping to get married again.
â€œIâ€™m single, but Iâ€™m not looking,â€ said Edna Boyles, 77. â€œIâ€™ve done said â€˜I doâ€™ enough, honey.â€
That said, there are others in the group who wouldnâ€™t be opposed to meeting someone nice.
â€œIâ€™m just looking now,â€ Burgess said.
Over the past 30 years, many married couples met and courted at the gym. Now the feeling is more about fellowship.
â€œWeâ€™re just brothers and sisters,â€ said Mary Lue Crafton. â€œWe look forward to seeing each other every Tuesday morning.â€
There is, however, hugging every now and again.
â€œThat does feel good â€“ to hold them, give a good hug,â€ said Walker Black, 88, an avid dancer.
The group of friends celebrates each otherâ€™s birthdays every month and supports one another through hard times.
They also share a love of old country music.
â€œI like it all,â€ said Beulah Reynolds, 84, of the music played during the dancing.
That said, she prefers â€œfast-goingâ€ tunes.
â€œBut slowâ€™s all right for us. We move kind of slowly,â€ she said.
And while some may move slowly, they still love to dance.
â€œItâ€™s the best exercise,â€ 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