Seniors cut a rug

Wednesday, March 2, 2011 11:19 PM
Journal/Paula Bostrom
Lorrain Leonard dances with partner Earl Severs at the senior citizens dance Feb. 24.
Journal/Paula Bostrom
Older adults enjoy dancing and friendships at the Senior Citizen’s Dance Club held every Thursday from 7 to 9 at the Montezuma County Senior Center in Cortez.
Journal/Paula Bostrom
Band member Ray Cassidy plays the fiddle at the Senior Citizen’s Dance Club on Feb. 24.

Senior citizens are dancing the night away every Thursday in Montezuma County.

The Senior Citizens Dance Club holds the dances each week at the Montezuma County Senior Center, and it gives older residents a chance to get out of their homes and enjoy fellowship with others. It proves to be quite popular, especially in warmer weather months when about 80 people show up each week to practice their country swing dance moves. That number is cut in half in the winter months when many snowbirds head south to warmer climes.

Donna Skinner is the newly-elected president of the Senior Citizens Dance Club and enjoys spending time with others at the dances.

“I really love the people,” Skinner said. “They’re just great. I love to dance so this is really a good thing.”

Skinner hopes to bring more people out on Thursday nights to fill the dance floor. Younger people are welcome to attend, and gray hair is not a requirement — only the desire to have fun. Singles are welcome, especially men. Laselle Becker serves as the dance hostess, and she makes sure everyone has a chance to get out on the floor, dancing with men or women where needed.

“When I first came (to the dances) 10 to 12 years ago, I said, ‘Well I guess if I’m going to dance I’ll learn to lead,’” said Becker, who is taller than most of the men at the dances and claims to be a better dance leader.

Music each week is provided by Audrey Allmon on piano, Linda Filener and Larry Hauser on guitars, and Ray Cassidy on bass guitar and fiddle. The group has been playing together for years, and one man gives Allmon credit for his ability to dance.

“That gal playing the piano (Allmon) started me dancing. She started me dancing when we were kids in grade school,” said Ike Gilpin. Allmon is a former teacher who taught at the one-room schoolhouse at Battlerock.

Gilpin’s wife, Betty, said they try to attend the dances every week and were dancing with each other before they were married.

“We’ve been dancing for years, but we just got married two years ago,” Betty Gilpin said. “We’ve been dancing together for about 3 1/2 years.”

Dale Jeter was one of the original founders of the club and said he’s been attending the dances for at least 45 years. He said he remembers when they were held near where the Cortez Post Office is now. He remained the club’s leader until about nine years ago. Like others, he enjoys the friendship at the dances and the chance to get some fun exercise.

“It’s good for people to get out and get their exercise, and visit and everything,” said Jeter, who loves to dance so much he paid to have hardwood floors installed to serve as the Senior Center’s dance floor.

For many seniors the dances were the only chance some people had to socialize. Sally Wayman took over for Jeter when he stepped down as president. She’s kept the dances going for most of the past decade and now serves as vice president for the club.

“I love the music and the people, and I just need to get out of my house,” said Wayman, echoing the theme of others in the dance club. “My husband passed away 12 years ago and I’m alone, so I just have fun coming. It’s my chance to get out and be with people.”

Dances are held each Thursday from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Montezuma County Senior Center on the west side of the Montezuma Annex Building, 103 N. Chestnut, Cortez. A cost of $2 per person goes toward the band. For more information about the dances, contact Leila, club secretary, at 560-1000.

Reach Paula Bostrom at