Ballroom Dancing in the North State
By Sandie Tillery
Lace up those dancing shoes! The music has begun. Ballroom dancers of all ages have found a variety of venues in the North State where local bands offer up sweet, jazzy, classical and just plain good dance tunes several times every month. Some dancers enjoy the scene on Friday and Saturday nights at establishments like Red Lion, while many others have found their social connections at senior centers, Elks and Moose lodges, and Caldwell Park Recreation Center. Evenings at several locations begin with instruction on a specific dance style before social dancing gets under way.
River City Jazz Society and many ballroom dance enthusiasts consider themselves one happy family. One recent evening, Out of the Blue, a North State dance band, provided music at a backyard venue on the banks of the Sacramento River where musicians and dancers enjoyed a potluck dinner and dancing while the setting sun cast a golden glow over all. At an earlier event in the summer at the same location, river rafters paused along the bank to enjoy the music and applaud the dancers.
Kathy Babcock is well known for her choreography and dance instruction for the cast of Club Cougar, the dinner/dance theater put on every spring by Foothill High School. She has been a dance instructor for 24 years through Redding Parks and Recreation and now her own dance company, Step by Step School of Ballroom Dance. “The good news is it does not take years to become a comfortable social dancer,” Babcock says. “Dancing makes for a romantic ‘date night’ because you are face-to-face and in the arms of your date, moving in harmony to the rhythms of whatever style of dance you choose. You can glide to the lilting beat of the waltz, sway to the jazzy rhythms of the swing, or undulate to the intoxicating pulse of the salsa.”
Aaron Anderson has taken dance instruction for several years and often partners with Babcock to demonstrate dance moves during her classes. He started dancing for health, but fell in love with dance. He loves the “lyrical joy of a well-crafted dance.” Anderson and his wife, Christine, frequent local venues, but often Aaron will go alone to serve as a dance partner at senior center dances for single ladies and those whose spouses don’t dance.
Romona Bowling started dancing 10 years ago after her husband passed away. It was a way to meet people and stay active. Now she is a friendly focal point at most local venues. She and partner Lyle Jonas seek out dance venues as they travel around the country. She has often been asked to help with instruction at Redding area dances because, they tell her, “You are having such a good time.” She makes a point that these occasions are friendly and non-threatening, welcoming to everyone.
Judy Hutcheson Tucker of the Just Dance Club says, “The dance community has become a big family. Some of us have been friends for 30 years. Not only do we dance together, we play together.”
“Let’s Dance” was started in 2010 and focuses on promoting West Coast Swing and other dance styles in the North State and having fun with dance. Sponsored by Redding Parks and Recreation, dancers (primarily a younger crowd) meet every Saturday at Caldwell Park Recreation Center. Recreation Supervisor Jennifer Moore says, “The lessons are casual and easy to follow with emphasis on enjoying dance rather than looking perfect.”
Age doesn’t seem to be an issue for those in pursuit of a fun dance experience. From 9 to 99, dancers find joy as they move to the beat of the tunes provided by musicians who are sharing their passion. It is good for mind, body and soul. •
7:30-10:30 pm South Shasta Seniors—Frontier Center in Anderson (50+) (530) 549-4101
7-10 pm Grange Hall in Red Bluff (all ages) (530) 529-3799
7:30-10:30 pm Anderson Senior Club—Frontier Center in Anderson (50+) (530) 275-1749
7:30-10:30 pm Redding Senior Citizens Hall (50+) (530) 246-3042Second Friday:
7 -10 pm Just Dance Club (members/guests only) (530) 356-9787
7 -10 pm Los Molinos Senior Center (21+) (530) 529-3205
7 -10 pm Caldwell Park Recreation Center (all ages) (530) 225-4095
Dance Party Dance Club—Frontier Center in Anderson (21+)
RiverCity Jazz Club—Redding Elks Lodge (All Ages) (530) 222-5340