Jay Copp 2017-01-25 01:18:30
LAUGHS FLOW EASILY AT HARD TIMES DANCE Five dollars gets you a rollicking band and a spacious dance floor, all the coffee you can drink and complimentary beans and wieners. You get to gawk at the ragged costumes some couples wear at the Hard Times Dance. And you also can laugh along with the “winners” of the raffle. Last year the first prize was a candlelight dinner—two candles and a box of mac and cheese. Since 1990 the popular event of the Sooke Lions in British Columbia, Canada, has driven away the winter blues and brought people together in the small, close-knit community of 11,000. Couples dance to popular songs of the ’50, ’60s and ’70s. “Christmas is over. There’s not a whole lot going on,” says Lion Jim Bailey, 63. “The idea is to have some fun. We get all ages mingling together. It’s an overall good time.” Some dancers opt for colorful clothes. Located near Victoria, Sooke is a seaside, picturesque hamlet with loads of outdoors recreational options and artisan shops that draw visitors. Winters are mild, and the hills that loom beyond the town tend to keep away the rain. So it’s not exactly a Depression-era setting. But the dance nevertheless has had lasting appeal. It’s held upstairs in the Sooke Community Hall (the club meets downstairs), and last year the maximum capacity of 450 once again was easily reached. “We get couples to come. It’s a very inexpensive evening that lifts people’s spirits,” says Lion Mike Thomas, who helped begin the dance. A typical Lions’ event, the dance allows old friends to catch up. Sooke is a Lions town. The Sooke club has 41 men; the Sooke Harbourside Lions Club has 60 women. The Sooke Lioness Club counts 25 members. Nearly all the Sooke Lions work the dance—selling raffle tickets, serving as security and staffing the bar and kitchen. Lionesses sell raffle and drink tickets. The women in the Harbourside club are content to display their dance moves. People of various ages enjoy the dance. Hard times may not characterize Sooke, but need and hunger do exist in the community. The club supports the local food bank both with donations and service, and the dance contributes to the club’s coffers. Lion Mike Thomas helped start the dance. Checking the beans are (from left) Lions Harry Connor, Pat Forrest and John Paterson. Standing in front of a mural painted by a local artist are (from left) Lions Connor, Carl Medwedrich, Forrest and Bob Halliday.
Published by International Association of Lions Clubs . View All Articles.
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