If you still have your dancing shoes but don’t want to go to a nightclub, listen up. There’s a growing trend of daytime dance clubs for older people.
For instance, VICE UK recently reported on a dance party at The Posh Club in Hackney, where dozens of women in sparkling dresses and statement jewelry and men in date-night finery boogied with full East London verve. The “wrinkle in time”—it was only 2 p.m., and all 120 partygoers at the outrageous weekly cabaret-style event were 60 or older. For producer Dicky Eaton, it is a point of pride that an ambulance was once needed for a woman in her 80s who was having so much fun she forgot to take her medication.
The dance party—one of five such regular retired-person shindigs run by legendary UK alt club promoters Duckie—has reinvented the concept of an older person’s social by presenting an event that is both lively and economical ($5/head). Says Eaton, who has worked with Duckie since 1995: “It’s probably the most rewarding thing I’ve ever been involved with….Just because you reach a certain age, doesn’t mean you don’t want to have fun anymore.” Eighty-year-old Margareta Warllin pulled the reporter outside to add: “It’s too loud to hear yourself think in there—isn’t that marvelous? Isn’t that just how it should be?”
South Korea’s “colatecs”—a mashup of “cola” and “discotheque”—are a similar phenomenon that has caught on with many older citizens there, says a recent Reuters report.
Kim Sa-gyu, 85, calls New Hyundai Core, the daytime disco he attends, his “playground.” With regular senior centers too dull and smoky for him and his family busy with work, Kim says, “What else would I do all day?” Wearing a beret, Kim spoke as he sat on a bench at the edge of a dance floor decorated with fairy lights and mirror balls.
Kim is among about 1,000 customers each weekday at the disco, one of nearly 1,000 such facilities in South Korea. New Hyundai Core owner Choi Jung-eun says almost 2,000 people visit the dance hall on a weekend day. She keeps a sharp eye out for cougars who would exploit the elderly and has a dance instructor and three full-time matchmaking ladies who mingle and help the shy find a partner.
“Those helpers sometimes take me to a new woman and put our hands together to dance. I buy them a bottle of Will during our tea breaks,” Kim says, referring to a poplar yogurt drink. “If you have music and a partner, you can put all other thoughts out of your mind,” says Kim.
And prices are a boon, too, to this poorest segment of South Korea’s population: Entry is 1,000 won (90 cents), 500 won covers coat-check service, and the disco’s best-selling beverage, at 2,000 won, is probiotic yogurt, not cola.
It’s common knowledge that dancing is great exercise and a great way to meet new people and have some fun. “My take from running this place is knowing that these old people have a place to go to when they wake up,” says Choi, who admits to some senior-friendly expansion plans such as an upstairs acupuncture clinic where customers can take care of their joints before and after dancing.
Curious to see if there’s one in your area? In New York City, for instance, a group called Boomer Parties (info is here) has dances starting at a reasonable 6:30 pm; there’s an entrance fee and a cash bar. Also try Googling “Senior Dance Party” or “Boomer dance party” and your vicinity to see what’s available in your area.
If you’re in New York, check out the monthly exercise dance party at Senior Planet on the last Friday of each month! The next is February 22 from 4pm-5pm. You need to RSVP; do it via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 646-590-0615. The February theme is Dancing for a healthy heart!
Photo Credit: REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji