The Greenup Senior Citizens Center is the place to be for those who like to dance in the Tri-State, Sandy Mendez, director of the center, said.
Dances, from 6 to 10 p.m. Fridays at the center at 1617 Ashland Road in Greenup, are open to all ages and to those inside and outside Greenup County.
“In the fall and winter, we also have dances on Saturdays, but we’ve stopped those until fall,” Mendez said. To prepare the seniors for the dances, the center is the site of line dance lessons from 6 to 9 p.m. Mondays.
“We have people come from Chillicothe, Columbus, Paintsville, Morehead, Lexington, Huntington, Charleston and Portsmouth,” she said. “It has spread by word of mouth and they started coming because they can’t find a place where there’s not smoking or drinking and they don’t like going to bars.”
With music provided by Dr. Dante Oreta and Richard Mendez — the director’s husband — dancers from their 20s to their 90s can groove to a variety of music, from country to oldies from the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s. “They line dance, waltz — they mix it up good,” Mendez said.
Dances have grown since the center moved from downtown Greenup two years ago to the new location, drawing bigger crowds, even though some of the old regulars didn’t know the center had moved and assumed it closed and dancing was no longer offered. But that wasn’t the case.
Mendez said it’s difficult to get the word out when many of the participants live out of the area.
“There are only about a half dozen regulars who live in Greenup,” she said. “Two-thirds of the crowd is from out the area, from Ohio or West Virginia.”
Although women outnumber men, Mendez said it’s not a problem.
“There are quite a few single men but it’s not a problem because we’re more like a family here and everybody dances with everybody regardless,” she said.
As director of the local senior center, Mendez said she knows the seniors enjoy the dances.
“They get especially excited when we have special dances,” she said, referring to the annual prom which is usually scheduled toward the end of May. “They really get geared up for prom and buy gowns and do the whole nine years. A lot of them didn’t get to do that when they were younger.”
Arrangements for this year’s prom are pending; planners are looking for a large enough location that will be affordable.
LEE WARD can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2661.