Hanging up the dancing shoes?

Senior Citizens Club considering discontinuing Senior Dance
By: 
CHARLIE DENISON
Reporter
Tuesday, August 13, 2019
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Steve Hughes does some two-stepping with Tammi Crawford. An avid dancer, Hughes said he’s sorry to see support dwindle for the Senior Dance. 

File Photo 

For almost 50 years, the Central Montana Senior Citizens Club has offered a Senior Dance on Saturdays, but Doris McCorkindale fears this long-standing tradition could be coming to an end.

“We can’t get people to come,” said McCorkindale, the acting Senior Citizens Club Treasurer. “We have about three couples out there on the dance floor, and that’s hardly enough to justify having a band, if there is even a band available.”

It hasn’t been looking good for some time, as McCorkindale said the dance recently changed from weekly to once a month, and attendance remains slim.

“We can’t get anybody interested,” she said. “The old people who were coming regularly are dying off, and the younger people aren’t getting involved.”

McCorkindale would love to see this turn around. She doesn’t want to close the doors on the dance, but she doesn’t know how to get others engaged in the activity.

“I know there are a lot of retired people in this community, and I know a lot of them love to dance,” she said, “but we’re not seeing them at the Senior Dance. If we could get others interested, I’m sure we’d keep the dance going. We need help. We need people to get the word out and help generate interest.”

Seeing the senior dance end would be especially upsetting for McCorkindale, who has spent much time there the last 10 years.

“I’ve always enjoyed it,” she said, “and many others have enjoyed it through the years.”

Steve Hughes said he had many fond memories from the get-together.

“It was nice to dance a little bit,” he said, “and good to see people getting up and playing some old country standards. It was a good time for socializing, too.”

Anne and Bill Routh would always look forward to the shindig.

“We’ve been going five or six years and have really loved it,” Anne said. “Bill has even come out to the dance with a walker. Even if you can’t dance, it’s nice to come and just hear the music.”

Anne said it’s a shame to see the curtains close on this activity. She said she’d like to see something change before it’s too late, but she’s unsure how to shift the momentum.

“We’ve tried,” she said. “We’ve talked to other people about it and they say, ‘yeah, that sounds nice,’ but they never come.”

The senior dance could really use some new faces, Anne added, and younger ones at that; if they can’t, there will be no encore. 

“We’ve had younger people come and have a great time,” she said. “It isn’t only for the nearly dead.”

 

Gradual decline

McCorkindale said she’s not too surprised the Senior Citizens Club is in this predicament, as they’ve been steadily losing members for decades. In the 70’s they had more than 250 members.

By 2014 they were down to 36 and by 2019 had only 10.

This being the case, McCorkindale recently handed the Senior Citizens Center over to the Judith Mountain Players, a non-profit local theater group.

“We didn’t have enough members to maintain the building anymore,” she said. “We couldn’t afford the taxes, insurance and utilities. It wasn’t practical.”

Although the building is no longer theirs, the Senior Citizens Club worked out a deal with the JMP to still use the facility for dances and card games. The card games continue to draw a small crowd twice a month.

“If there are at least eight women who come and enjoy it, it’s worth it,” McCorkindale said.

Nevertheless, with so few members left, McCorkindale is contemplating not just disbanding the senior dance, but disbanding the Senior Citizens Club altogether.

“We have to have a meeting with our members and see what they want to do,” she said.

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