They showed off the cross-over step, the cha-cha, and the walk and wobble.
Then the line dancers of the Dixwell/Newhallville Senior Center wowed their audience by shaking it just as their accompanying song, “Hip Swinging Blues,” suggested.
The fun – and good exercise – were part of the annual ceremony of appreciation for volunteers who work with seniors across the city. Organized by Migdalia Castro, the city’s new director of elderly services, and the city’s Commission on Aging, the festive event drew more than 200 people, including Mayor Toni Harp and a dozen honorees, to Anthony’s Ocean View restaurant Tuesday afternoon.
Among the dancers were John Black (at right in photo), who described himself as a relative newcomer, and Loretta Troxler (at left) who has been with the line-dancing group for about four years.
For the last 17 years, the group has been meeting Tuesday and Thursday nights from 5 to 8 at the Dixwell/Newhallville Senior Center at 255 Goffe St.. They do work up a sweat, said Troxler.
Her favorite dance of the four the group performed was to “Broken Stones” because of the jazzy music and the cross-over steps.
Although the line-dancing group does occasional gigs like Tuesday’s party, the group’s director for the past six years, Xan Walker, said the Dixwell/Newhallville group’s focus is less performance and “more exercise for older people.”
That includes socializing and mingling in between the sets.
On any given night the activity draws about 40 women and four to six men, said Black, who in addition to dancing occasionally choreographs a song.
One reason he is a newcomer is that he had fractured his hip, which put line dancing on the back burner.
The broken hip was not the result of a workout at Dixwell/Newhallville, said Troxler. Although the seniors work up a sweat, the atmosphere is relaxed and people are easygoing.
“She [Walker] breaks it down. It’s repeating, and it’s easy,” Troxler said.
As to physical demands, “some people have problems with their hips, knees, joints. We sit down and rest, so it’s not hard,” she said of the practices. “I have a problem with my knee. I can’t do the intricate steps. We dance within physical limitations.”
Those limitations weren’t apparent Tuesday as the group slid smoothly along the restaurant’s wooden floor and clapped to the music. Amid applause afterward, the dancers sat down to a well-earned dessert.