Knights of Columbus Tea Dance Offers a Relaxing Afternoon to The Sounds of a Big Band

The tea dance got its name from an afternoon social gathering where tea and snacks where served. First held as a form of entertainment where single women and men gathered to meet to engage in conversation and dance, dances where often held on a waxed stif


Date added to ADN: Friday, Apr 05 2013
Originally Published: Friday, Apr 05 2013
By Melva Gail Smith

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From it's beginning in the 1800's, the tea dance got its name from an afternoon social gathering where tea and snacks where served. First held as a form of entertainment where single women and men gathered to meet to engage in conversation and dance, dances where often held on a waxed stiff canvas that had been spread over a carpet or unwaxed floor. While this was once considered an acceptable practice, the tea dance has experienced many changes such as dance friendly flooring; making it a more pleasurable experience today.

Although you will likely find cola and chips served at today's gatherings, the original purpose of the tea dance is still enjoyed. Tea dances are unique because they are held in the afternoon instead of at night, and give the late night worker an opportunity to attend. Music played at tea dances vary from pre-recorded tunes and DJ's, to live bands.

There is something about attending a midafternoon dance and listening to the sound of a live band that brings to life the memories of a time gone by. It's a relaxing change of pace. One such band plays at a weekly tea dance held at the Knights of Columbus located at 4801 Progress Blvd in Louisville, KY. There, dancers have the opportunity to enjoy the big band sound played by a unique group made up entirely of seniors called New Tones. Formerly known as the Mello Tones, the original group started about 45 or 50 years ago. "We don't have any of the original members left, said Lou Vernon, one of the band directors. Ranging in age between 70 and 80 years old, this band of senior musicians have what it takes to create the sound that once packed dance floors in the 30' s and 40's.

"Most of the music has been arranged by individuals of the band," Lou added. Ask anyone at the dance and they will likely tell you that the big band sound seems to bring out the best in people. Dancers can expect to feel uplifted as soon as they enter the room, and it is not uncommon to hear people humming some of the tunes long after they have been played. Big band music just sticks with you. "It's feel good music," exclaimed dancer Rosamond Reynolds, 89 who probably describes it best. Rosamond, a former dance instructor has been attending the dance with her husband Farnum (90) a retired drummer of the band; for the past two years. "It's the way music should be played," she said.

Dot and Allen Bail who have also followed the group for some time, enjoy the music as well as the friendships they have made over the years. "We enjoy the good music and the dance floor" they both agreed.

Numerous mixers are played throughout the evening giving everyone a chance to dance. A couple of line dances are usually added to the mix that are not necessarily danced to the traditional songs associated with the specific dance, but rather to the sounds of another era. Decorated with white lights in the ceiling, the facility offers snacks and drinks at the bar. Those in attendance can expect an enjoyable evening that is filled with fun.

Ask Fern or Carl Larson and they won't hesitate to tell you that the good band and the people keep them coming back for more. However, in addition to good music and socializing with friends, many dancers are there to also reap the rewards of exercise that come along with dancing. Many who attend have been dancing for most of their lives and are living proof that dancing helps to keep us healthy. "It's excellent exercise and you really don't realize it's exercise." Carl said.

If you would like to attend one of their dances and experience the great sound of the band for yourself, the Knights of Columbus holds the tea dance every Thursday from 1:30 - 3:30pm. A warm friendly welcome awaits new guests.


About the Author:

Melva Gail Smith is a disabled dance enthusiast from Louisville, KY who enjoys promoting the health and social benefits of both dancesport and linedancesport through her writings. Melva has written for USA Dance, as well as various online magazines; and is the inspiration of dance choreographer Ira Weisburd's Breathe Freely Campaign for Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Awareness.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the AccessDance Network. Be aware that imagery is copyrighted and often licensed for use on AccessDance only. Copying of images is strictly prohibited.

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