Snohomish seniors bring it to Valentine’s dance

SNOHOMISH — They didn’t dim the lights for this night of dancing.

All the better to see the bright red dresses and the crimson ties over pressed white shirts.

Valentine’s Day came four days early to the Snohomish Senior Center.

More than 100 people, some born during the presidential administrations of Harding, Hoover and Roosevelt, moved about the dance floor to the King of Swing Benny Goodman’s beckoning clarinet. There was a waltz here, the Macarena there.

Bill Haley and the Comets’ “Rock Around the Clock” and Dion’s “I’m a Wanderer” enticed and arms flapped to “The Chicken Dance.”

In the middle of it all was Eleanor Leight, the one-time Radio City Rockette who danced in Europe with the USO during World War II. Nearing 90, the longtime Snohomish dance teacher demonstrated steps and emboldened the reluctant.

“She’s fantastic,” said Bob Dvorak, executive director of the Snohomish Senior Center.

The center has staged dances before, be the occasion Oktoberfest or New Years.

“We always have a lot,” said Shirley Rausch, 79, between dances. “Seventy, 80 people show up.”

What Rausch particularly enjoyed Saturday night was seeing Snohomish High School students helping out and joining in. The school’s ROSS (Reaching Out to Snohomish Seniors) and Key clubs often bring youthful energy to the center’s events, she said.

“We may not be able to walk tomorrow,” said Janet Phillips, 75, clearly in jest.

Gary Gable, 71, a retired teacher who’s active on the Snohomish Senior Center board, said he’s a fan of the slow dances although he did learn the chicken dance at his daughter’s wedding years ago.

Gable attended the opening of the new senior center two years ago and began showing up to play cribbage, a board game he has enjoyed for years.

Before he knew it, Gable was getting sucked deeper and deeper into the activities at the senior center, which serves 750 members.

Seeing such a robust turnout Saturday night made Gable feel good.

The center’s mission is to support senior independence and quality of life and the Valentine’s dance seemed to accomplish both, he said.

“The independence is what you are seeing out there right now,” he said, nodding toward the dance floor. “This is where the relationships build.”

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446, stevick@heraldnet.com

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