Trip lightly at Lord Mayor’s Tea Dance

Put the date in your diaries: Sun Jan 26 is the afternoon to anticipate as Cork City Hall sways to the good old days with Evelyn Grant and the Cork Pops Orchestra.

Evelyn Grant conducting the Cork Pops Orchestra during the Cork 2005 Celebration Primary schools show in the Cork City Hall.

Winter gloom will be forgotten and the memories of yesteryear rekindled from 3pm to 6pm in what is probably the best idea yet — the Lord Mayor’s Tea Dance.

“It’s something we started during the Millennium Celebrations,” explains Gerry Kelly, who with Dr Andrew Crosbie is organising this year’s event.

“The purpose then, as now, was to get older people out actively dancing and socialising. We ran three in the city and three in the county and they were all jam-packed.!” But when the Celtic Tiger died, Kelly thought such a wonderful project could never happen again.

“Then fate took a hand. I met Andrew Crosbie on the Common Purpose course, and he happens to be a keen ballroom dancer. He’s very much involved in geriatric medicine and fully realises the benefits of getting out and enjoying yourself on the dance floor.

“He took me out in his boat to the middle of Cork Harbour and said we weren’t going back to shore until I agreed to run another tea dance. And since I wanted it to happen too, that’s what we did.”

Apart from the pleasure of getting out and meeting other people, the older generation really get the opportunity to show off their experience and skills, says Kelly.

“The thing is, they all know how to dance, which many younger people today do not. It’s a totally inter-generational event; the kids bring their parents, and maybe they feel they’re doing a nice thing for them, but the tables are turned completely when the orchestra strikes up and the parents can show them how to move, how to look good on the floor.! That’s great for everybody.”

This not-for-profit event draws in helpers from all over the community. It’s organised by a local committee from the public, private and voluntary sectors and hosted by the Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr. Catherine Clancy.

“The Viva Dance Studio will give a demonstration, Bernard Curtin will be on vocals, Dino does the catering and all his kids volunteer to help as well. It’s a wonderful group effort.”

This year, reveals Kelly, they have an added excitement: a Cinderella prize for one lucky individual. “We have 70-year-olds meeting friends they haven’t seen since schooldays. I tell you, more than one has got a walk home out of it. And of course they can use free travel to get there and it’s over by 6, which is great if you don’t like being out late. The City Hall floor is sprung so you can dance on it for hours and not get tired. It’s like being in Vienna.”

We should have events like this every month —the benefits are enormous. Local authorities and groups everywhere, please copy Cork.

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