Friendship and foxtrots: Fairlane Ballroom Dance Club puts a spin in their step

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Photo by Sue Suchyta
Evan Harper (left), 15, of Muskegon dances with his great-grandmother, Mary Urbanick of Wyandotte Aug. 15 at the Fairlane Ballroom Dance Club at Lyskawa Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7546 Hall in Dearborn Heights.

By SUE SUCHYTA
Times-Herald Newspapers

Jean Orleans, the group president, said the group started 50 years ago by friendly people who like to dance and socialize.

“I think that was the most important thing to me when I took over,” Orleans said. “I really wanted it to be like family. I really wanted people to look forward to being here and seeing other people. And you can’t find a better floor than this.”

The group, which meets from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. Thursdays at the Lyskawa Veteran of Foreign Wars Post 7546 Hall, 6840 Waverly, features music from live bands and a new hardwood dance floor. Admission is $7 for members (who pay $15 annual dues) and $8 for guests.

For more information, call Orleans at 734-516-0500 or go to the club’s Facebook page.
The group also offers dinner dances every other month, at $16 for members and $18 for guests, with live dance music. The next scheduled dinner dance is Sept. 19, featuring a catered buffet and the Mike Wolverton Band.

Weekly dance lessons, a new feature, begin at the hall from 6 to 7 p.m. Sept. 5 with instructor Pamela Preczewski, a professional ballroom and Latin dancer and co-owner of DanceSport Academy of Dearborn. Each lesson costs $7 per person.

Donald Rodde of Livonia said he does not need any lessons. He said he has been dancing since he was 3 years old.

“I was dancing on my mother’s toes when she was dancing at a ballroom on Woodward Avenue,” Roode said. “She’s the one that taught me rhythm, and I can’t get it out of my system. I don’t want to.”

Orleans, who learned to ballroom dance in gym class as a child, said she never took any other lessons.

“There’s nothing I like to do better,” Orleans said. “It doesn’t matter what hurts, it doesn’t matter about anything. It’s just once you are out there and the music’s going it is just beautiful.”

Evan Harper, 15, of Muskegon, danced with his great-grandmother Mary Urbanick of Wyandotte while staying with her for several days. He said he learned to dance when he was 4 years old when his grandmother, who was dating a dance band member at the time, would take him to the venues where the band was playing.

He said while freestyle is his favorite form of dance, the polka is his favorite ballroom dance. He said he also waltzes.

Harper considers ballroom dancing an important life skill as well as a history lesson.
Urbanick, who said she was looking forward to dancing with her great-grandson, said she enjoys doing the tango and the waltz, which she considers elegant dances.

She said she likes that as a club officer she gets to meet the other members while helping run the weekly dances.

Orleans said they use different live bands, and usually have 80 people turn out for a dance, and 180 people for a dinner dance.

A lit sign near the band will highlight the dance type, be it a tango, waltz, fox trot, or another step. The band occasionally will play a line dance for participants without partners, and they will do mixers, where partners switch every minute, twice an evening, to give people a chance to meet other dancers.

“The crowd just gets together and they do a lot of laughing,” Orleans said. “It’s a friendly group.”

She said ballroom dancing keeps one young, and it gives women an opportunity to get dressed up.

“I think if the younger generation could only get into it they would understand,” Orleans said.

Jinny Vloink of Dearborn said she loves to dance, and the band, dance floor and music attracted her to the Fairlane Ballroom Dance Club.  She said Latin-style dances and waltzes are her favorites.

She said dancing is good for both her heart and soul.

“It is good exercise,” Vloink said. “Good, healthy exercise. It’s a social life. Most of the people are single.”

Ann Zemeski of Allen Park said she loves to dance, especially the waltz and slow dances. She is a widow, and she said she enjoys meeting friends at the dances, especially the dinner dances.

“I come out here to get out of the house, to meet friends, to meet people and I really like it,” Zemeski said.”It’s good for me to get out.”

Julie Skolarus of Brighton, also a widow, goes to dances several times a week in different cities.  She said it energizes her and she loves to dance.

“I think everybody in my age group should dance and get off the couch because it is good exercise and it is good for circulation,” Skolarus said. “I’ve made a lot of friends in the last 12 years, and we all go from hall to hall. We all congregate – that way no matter where you go, you always know somebody.”

She said she loves the cha-cha and the rumba, as well as live music.

“I like live music because there’s nothing like live music,” she said. “And you know what?  It’s nice clean fun, and even for the young, the middle-aged, and even the older people.”

Skolarus said it’s a good way for widows and widowers to meet new people.

Jack Connaughton of Livonia said he likes to dance, and he likes the people he meets at the club dances, as well as the wooden dance floor.

A widower, he said also attends dances to relieve his loneliness. He said he meets new people, he will talk with them, and they will go to shows in a group as well.

“I’m not a great dancer,” he said. “I don’t know all those steps. I just listen to the beat and try to keep my feet going with it.”