The popular dances of yesteryear are brought back to life once a week by the New Plymouth Modern and Old Time Dancing Club.
The club meets in the Peace Hall on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month, and in the Methodist Hall in Liardet St on the first, third and fifth.
Visitors are welcome to go and try their hand – or foot – at dances such as the veleta, waltz, foxtrot, two-step, maxina and Gay Gordons. Live music is provided by a pianist and a drummer and if you don't know the dances it doesn't matter; you'll be helped.
The club was founded in 1979, but membership is down to about 16.
“They're all over 65 now, and some are up to 90,” says club secretary Barbara Floyd. “It's a dying art; you can't get the young ones. Maybe if we did rock 'n' roll... but some of the members wouldn't like that!”
Nevertheless, proof that young people would enjoy the dancing came recently when a club night coincided with a sleepover for young people from St Mary's. The youngsters were invited to join the dancing: “They enjoyed it; they were laughing like mad!”
Just because the current members are elderly it doesn't mean they aren't lively; club nights last from 8 to 11.30pm, “and they could probably go all night,” says Barbara.
The motto of the club is “Keep fit and active,” and Barbara says the medical profession approves: “When you go for an operation, the doctor says 'Anyone who has been dancing is fit.'”
Barbara has had a lifetime of dance, and is still going strong. “I can remember dancing when I was at primary school. And later there was dancing with Colin King's band in the Star gym; that's where I met my husband.”