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Ballroom dancers step into holiday season

By Lauren Schiavone
Hometown Weekly Staff

Familiar faces joined Lestyn Gilmore at the Walpole Council on Aging on Friday, December 9. Gilmore typically visits once a month for afternoons filled with dance, typically line dancing. She switched things up this month, however, by DJing for a jolly ballroom dance. 

Seniors dressed for the holiday season and headed to the Murphy Room for an afternoon of dancing and socialization. The COA offered snacks, coffee, and plenty of company.

Gilmore curated a special holiday playlist for the occasion, and the December afternoon lent itself perfectly to the cheery celebration of winter. With songs encapsulating multiple styles of ballroom dance, she acknowledged the positive interactions seniors had, and the connection they make, through these outings. 

“They get to socialize with friends they don’t get to see normally,” explained Gilmore, who has been teaching for over five decades and is always happy to fraternize with seniors and see them showcasing their skills on the dance floor. “Since COVID, people are anxious to get out,” she added. “Dancing is their go-to; they can do it together. They can see friends and socialize. It’s good for them.”

As for the types of dance, ballroom encompasses over a dozen styles with many variations. “We do Latin dances, cha-cha, rumba, merengue,” Lestyn explained. “Sometimes I’ll throw in a salsa or a variety. There’s 13 ballroom dances and there are added styles. Most people know six basics: foxtrot, waltz, cha-cha, swing, rumba, and tango. Some know more. A lot of times, people dance what they know; that’s important, too.” 

Holiday tunes such as “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” led into a foxtrot. More upbeat classics like “Jingle Bell Rock” allowed adequate rhythm for swing dancing. Gilmore enjoyed watching the partners share laughs. 

“I love it,” Lestyn enthused before stepping onto the floor herself. “It’s great for me. I bring new music, they’re happy that I play their music. They’re a great bunch. I get people from all over that come here. [The COA staff] are very accommodating here.”

Lestyn Gilmore visits the Walpole Council on Aging once a month, typically for line dancing. There are plenty of fitness classes at the COA, including a weekly Line dancing class with Nancy. Visit the center to inquire about classes, programs, and meeting new people.

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