Written by Chris Boyle, firstname.lastname@example.org Friday, 07 February 2014 00:00
For many seniors, as well as a growing segment of younger people, the art of ballroom dance is a timeless way to while away hours while keeping both body and mind fit—and it doesn’t hurt that it’s a whole lot of fun.
Pearl Bacal of Hickville, co-founder of the Society Tempo Ballroom Dancing Club of Hicksville along with partner Nick Maucus, has been teaching and running dances all over Nassau County for over 25 years. Society Tempo meets every Friday afternoon at Kismet Hall in Hicksville and on a good day can attract as many as 40 participants, who spend the afternoon dancing their feet off in addition to enjoying lunch and refreshments. The event caters primarily to seniors, but Bacal was quick to note that all age groups are welcome.
“It’s a hobby for them. A lot of their friends or relatives have maybe passed on and they like to come to our club where they can meet people they have something in common with,” Bacal said. “It’s wonderful exercise because you’re using every muscle in your body and your brain is working the entire time. It provides both mental and physical relaxation, which is very important. It’s important for people to remain active as they get older.”
Bacal, who was born and raised in Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn, has had a deep love of dance for as long as she can remember, having come from a family with a strong musical background.
“I have a background in ballet as a child, and my father was a very big tango and waltz person,” she said. “I got my training at Dance Educators of America, so I was always up on the latest dances. Teaching dance is something that you enjoy because you’re giving to people. It’s artistry, and you’re molding people into something they can be very satisfied with. It’s a wonderful escape.”
While ballroom dancing can take many forms and be set to many different kinds of music, there is one important constant to the technique that Bacal said must be adhered to at all times.
“There’s lead and follow. The gentleman has to lead the lady to a certain pattern and the lady has to learn to follow. It is very bad for a lady to lead, so the man is always in charge,” she said. “But only on the dance floor! Once they get off the floor, all bets are off.”
Walter and Alfedia Schoendorf of Merrick have been attending Society Tempo dances for a whopping 30 years, and they attribute the sessions to keeping them both spry and lively on their feet.
“It’s wonderful. It’s good exercise, you meet nice people, and it doesn’t cost you much. It’s ideal,” Walter said. “Many years ago I never danced, but eventually my wife took me to a group lesson and I enjoyed it very much and we started dancing together all of the time.”
Farmingdale residents Frank and Madelyn Bondietti are also long-time members of Society Tempo and attend dances almost every single week.
“We love being members of this club,” Frank said. “The social aspect is great and we get plenty of exercise. We enjoy dancing and have gone on a number of cruises where we always dance away.”
Dorothy Radler of New Hyde Park has been letting her feet do the talking at Society Tempo with her partner David Rice for quite some time now, and the two say that it’s a great way to keep active and meet new people.
“We’ve been coming for about eight years, and one of the main reasons we come is because it’s during the day,” she said. “We enjoy the dancing, but more so, we enjoy the socializing. Everybody has been coming here a long while and it’s almost like family, which makes is very nice. And it’s very good exercise, both for your mind and your body.”