DANCE TIME: Vera and Doug Smith were champion ballroom dancers back in the 1970s, and you can still see their exact lines, but some Southport Senior Citizens Association members had never danced before joining, and others hadn't danced for decades.
DANCE TIME: Vera and Doug Smith were champion ballroom dancers back in the 1970s, and you can still see their exact lines, but some Southport Senior Citizens Association members had never danced before joining, and others hadn't danced for decades.

Southport seniors step their way to youth

SOUTHPORT Senior Citizens Association members may just have hit on the fountain of youth ... dancing.

Walking into the 40-year-old group's unassuming-looking dancehall, it's hard not to be impressed by the couples gliding across the dance floor in synchronised movements as if under the spell of the gentle music.

They all know what move comes next, and with a word or two from the compere, the following tune brings a different sequence with a romantic-sounding name like Barclay Blues, Charmaine or Carousel.

It's called New Vogue dancing, and originated in the 1930s, with pre-choreographed dance moves in various styles from waltz to foxtrot, tango and beyond.

I apologise to a seated couple for scaring them off the dance floor with my camera, but they assure me it's not me, they know about 60 of the hundreds or thousands of possible sequences, so are just sitting this one out.

Talking to the members during morning tea break, I am surprised by their ages, with all appearing younger than their years.

Is this some sort of Cocoon phenomenon?

(Remember Ron Howard's 1980s film where retirement home residents absorb an alien life force in the swimming pool that makes feel younger and stronger?)

In ways, it is.

Sandra Boyd admits she's "a bit of a fanatic about exercise" but said the benefits of dance were many, including mental (remembering the moves), physical, social contact and friendship.

"Exercise is really so important; that you find something fun and interesting to do, and don't sit all the time.

"Retirement is a very long process.

"Dancing gives you a reason to get out, get dressed up a bit, maybe buy something nice that makes you feel good ..."

She said her partner Michael had a number of health issues, including emphysema and heart trouble, and had surprised his doctors by his rate of recovery, which she attributes to dance.

"I think exercise is a real panacea once you're over 70," she said.

While she admitted she keeps very busy with swimming, twice-a-week Pilates, walking 10,000 steps a day and light weights, as well as three sessions of dancing, the 75-year-old said too many people look for excuses why they can't do things, rather than reasons why they can.

She said dance allowed you to do as much or as little as you wanted, and adjust moves to suit your fitness ... and "you never knew how much better you might feel".

And, while some participants like Vera and Doug Smith were competitive ballroom dancers back in the 1970s (even Queensland champions), who trained five nights a week at their peak, Sandra said the club caters for all levels, right down to those who have never danced before, or like herself hadn't danced for decades.

Southport Seniors Citizens Club offers line dancing, new vogue, tap, square and Scottish dancing, all with experienced volunteer tutors, as well as socials and a Friday night dance ever second week at the hall at 2 Whitby Street, Southport.

Members range in age from their 60s to 90s and they are very happy to welcome new dancers - especially men - with no partner required.

Yearly membership is just $8 and classes are $3, including refreshments, and the club offers free Come and Try sessions throughout Seniors Week from August 17-25.

Find out more, including the full timetable, at http://southportseniorcitizens.com or by phoning Peta on 5529 7910 or Annette on 5537 1377.