“Cel-le-bra-a-ate good times! Come on! Let’s Celebrate!”
Arms raised and with feet not missing a beat, dozens of members of Greenwich House (GH) Older Adult Centers hit the expansive floor dancing at Our Lady of Pompeii (OLP) center last Thursday.
The “Dancing Thru the Ages” festivity, part of a medley of activities marking 120 years of Greenwich House, brought to a celebration to members from four GH Older Adult Centers, GH staff, and 25 Morgan Stanley volunteers.
The DJ’s mix of 70s disco, Motown, with big band, jazz, Latin and hip-hop thrown in, kept the heart pulsing all evening long. Mixed with partner, jitterbug and free-style expressive movements were a conga line, the electric cha cha slide and Macarena. More than 250 members had a ball.
Mary Springer, Director of the Our Lady of Pompeii site since June, reported that this was the first large festive gathering for so many since Covid, “That night on leaving, they expressed such extreme gratitude and some were close to tears. Really!”
Local Councilmember Erik Bottcher always shows up with the community. “Isn’t it good we’re together in person after such a long time?” He asked the high-spirited crowd. This party was a counterbalance to the social isolation many seniors experienced under Covid.
Previously a regular at the now-closed Barrow Street center site, Sandy Hechtman remarked, “I talked with people I haven’t seen in a while.” Members from the Barrow St. site are now dispersed to Westbeth, OLP, or 20 Washington Square North sites for meals or activities.
When Bibi Elvers, 90, walked in, saw a huge dance floor covered with dancers, she wasn’t sure she was in the right place. “For a moment, it didn’t feel like this was a party for seniors,” she first observed. “Then I realized this is what was intended! It was wonderful.” Elvers admits she hasn’t danced in maybe 30 years. And that night she did shake a leg. “Music with a beat really turns me on,” she adds, “and ultimately I felt like the party was organized for me.”
“This was my initiation into senior-hood,” says Alice Klugherz, almost 68 and a new GH member. (Older Adult Center memberships are free and available to all NYC residents, ages 60+. There are four sites in the GH Older Adult network.)
Klugherz danced the night away, “I loved the music, the party and especially Ben, a GH maintenance staff member who encouraged people to dance.”
One guest, astounded at the evening’s vibrancy, noted that more older adults should partake in what’s locally available to them.
“I had the best time,” beamed Hellen Osgood, who never got off the dance floor. “And I made a new friend, Lynn Christopher who came with her sister Barbara Bolzano. This was the first ever Center activity for both of them.”
“When they played Dirty Dancing’s ‘The Time of My Life’ dancers formed a circle and wheelchair-bound Lynn was in the middle. She was the center! The sisters obviously love music.” They’ve since been invited to listen to the Washington Square Park musicians particularly the “Let’s Jam” sessions that will reconvene indoors at 20 Washington Square North in January.
A power-of-dance-music believer, Osgood adds, “Folks hear music that moves them and they leave 20 years at the door!”
Osgood also notes that there were so many GH Center support staff such as kitchen aides and porters there as guests including Loretta, Robert, Henry, Ben, and Stacy, having a good time because they wanted to part of the energy.
Completing the party was a tasty charcuterie box of nibbles for each person and cake.
The sentiment of post-disco Kool & the Gang sums up the evening, “There’s a party going on right here; A celebration, to last throughout the years. So bring your good times and your laughter too, We gonna celebrate your party with you. Come on!”
Greenwich House Older Adults can party and their vibe goes on.
Ex-Brit turned Manhattan resident since 2008.