Older American Klub dances attract music lovers of different ages

Friday, April 17, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 10:28 a.m. CDT, Friday, April 17, 2009
Wayne and Marie Crump take a turn on the dance floor during the Older American Klub dance on March 20 at the Stephens Lake Activity Center in Columbia. The Crumps go to dances not only to socialize, but also for exercise. Wayne Crump is from Ashland while his wife is from Illinois. "I took a city girl and made a country girl out of her!" he joked.

COLUMBIA — Wayne and Marie Crump have enjoyed many activities throughout their 51 years of marriage. Whether they are piecing quilts or working in the garden, the two have fun. But most of all, they like dancing.

Before they had children, Wayne Crump said, “We would dance every Saturday night.”

If you go

What: Older American Klub's dances; John White and the Nine Mile Band are Friday's scheduled feature

When: 7 to 10 p.m. on the second and third Fridays of the month

Admission: Free for the second Friday, $3 for the third Friday

Where: Stephens Lake Activity Center, 2311 E. Walnut

For more information: Call 874-7475, or go to the Parks and Recreation Department's Web site

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After their children left home, the couple sought a way to get back onto the dance floor. They found their answer in Older American Klub dances, held twice a month. The club, operated by the Parks and Recreation Department, organizes activities for Columbia residents 50 and older.

Each month, the club holds two dances at the Stephens Lake Activity Center. Connie Smith, chairwoman for the group's music department, organizes both dances. She said that though the club caters to people 50 and older, people of any age can attend the dance. Twenty-year-olds have begun attending, she said, and people bring their grandchildren.

"There's no age limit," she said. "Everybody's welcome."

The first dance, held on the second Friday of the month, charges no admission. The music is provided by its members, who call the free dance their "Jammers' Session." Anyone who enjoys playing music is invited to play.

For the second dance, held on the third Friday of the month, the club brings in a hired band and charges $3 admission. Recently, the club formed an in-house band, composed of some of the jam session's attendees. Smith created The Missouri Rail Riders at the request of the parks department.

Since she took over the position in August, Smith has tried to expand the type of music played at the dances. Besides country, The Missouri Rail Riders play jazz, pop, rock and rhythm and blues.

Smith's husband, Mike, is one of the band's guitarists. The Missouri Rail Riders was the name of his high school band, and when the new band needed a name, Connie Smith thought of using it for the new club band.

As the band played at the club's March 20 dance, attendees chatted and joked — about friends missing that week, tips for their early gardens and their families. They sang along with tunes they knew. Nearly everyone joining in on Patsy Cline's "I Fall to Pieces." And when a polka started up, several people started dancing around the room, including the Crumps.

They danced to nearly every song, including a jitterbug, and even when they took a break, Wayne Crump continued swaying and tapping his foot to the music.

"There's fun in dancing," he said.

He said he and his wife use their dancing time to keep fit, as well. "It's great exercise," Wayne Crump said, adding that it's also a mental workout. "You're keeping your mind in step with the music."

But Connie Smith said it's not just about dancing. "It's for people who enjoy music," she said. Many people come to visit, and some play cards or even bring a book to read while they listen.

Doris Rankin, whose husband plays in the in-house band, said she likes to socialize at the dances.

“I come basically to hear the band and see who’s here,” she said.

About halfway into the evening, the group took a break to eat. Each person brings a dish — meatballs, apple pie, mini-sandwiches and more — and everyone is invited to share the food. Many exchange recipes for the dishes they brought, and the group is also trying to put together a cookbook.

As for the Crumps, they plan to keep dancing at every opportunity.

“We’re still out there, still having fun,” Marie Crump said.

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