Twilight is time to dance for Monadnock Tri-State Club

  • Couples enjoy the music and each other's company at the Monadnock Tri-State Dance Club socials held every other Saturday night in the Ellen Lambert Murphy Memorial Community Center in Winchester, NH. —Ann Reed

  • Couples enjoy the music and each other’s company at the Monadnock Tri-State Dance Club socials held every other Saturday night in the Ellen Lambert Murphy Memorial Community Center in Winchester, N.H. photos/Ann Reed

For the Athol Daily News
Published: 5/6/2019 9:55:22 PM

WINCHESTER, N.H. — The boogie-woogie is live, and Harry Winther, sporting a tailored shirt and slacks, is leading a longhaired lady in a slick jitterbug. Even off the dance floor, Winther’s bearing exudes fortitude and style. When asked his age, he casually reveals it — which, after a pregnant pause, elicits this response:

It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature.

“I’m not fooling Mother Nature,” Winther, 90, counters in his own defense. “Mother Nature’s just doing me a favor. I just exercise every day, eat right and dance.”

Winther was one of more than 60 people gracing the dance floor at the most recent Monadnock Tri-State Dance Club social, generally held twice a month in the Ellen Lambert Murphy Memorial Community Center. The next dances are May 25 and June 8.

“They’re really a great bunch of people who love to have a good time,” club member Tom Tourigny of Athol had said in an interview earlier. “The average age is 84, and I’m not joking,” estimated Tourigny, 62. “We’re the kids,” he quipped of himself and wife Lianne, experienced dancers observed enjoying many a stylish go ‘round the dance floor.

The dance club — really “more a social club,” says Tourigny — draws faithfuls from Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont to the 21 Durkee Street location. On this night, the dance band “Champagne Jam” provided the live music — featuring oldies rock ‘n’ roll, Western fare, a little Zydeco and some Latin numbers. A potluck supper had preceded this dance, as is the case some nights. Later in the evening, folks indulged in a regularly scheduled dessert break.

The decades-old club had, once again, managed to draw enough attendance — the minimum needed being 55 — to cover costs, including musicians’ pay, hall rental and insurance. In addition to admission collected, a 50/50 raffle and (nonalcoholic) beverage sales help. The perpetual balancing act is managed thanks, in part, to the behind-the-scenes generosity of members, says Barbara Greenough, club president.

“People give of their time and buy things for the dance. All of this is because people love to dance, and they want to keep this going. If they don’t, it will fold,” says Greenough, 81, who has served in various leadership positions for this cause for many years. “I feel I’m doing something for somebody,” she says, but quickly emphasizes that she is hardly alone in efforts, and the sense of satisfaction is great. “You get back more than you give.”

The dance floor remains full all evening — with changeable partners seen Frug-ing, foxtrotting, swing-dancing, waltzing and doing the cha-cha-cha. Dress is casual, but with a noticeable flair. Greenough herself — a pretty strawberry blonde with a pixie cut — is wearing pink sphere earrings that match her pristine pink and white gingham blouse topping a pair of studded blue jeans.

“Everybody asks everybody to dance,” she further explains of the Monadnock Tri-State Dance Club culture. ”Here, we don’t want a girl to come here and not have a dance.” Has that little libertine policy ever resulted in “any trouble?” she is asked. “No,” Greenough testifies with a straight face.

Even the “girl” reporter — in the name of investigative journalism — accepted a few spins on the dance floor from gents evidently undeterred by a mere notebook and pen.

The event is always alcohol-free, yet the smiling partiers seem to be enjoying a high time. Underneath it all, a number contend with significant illness, notes Greenough, speaking of the importance of keeping the good times rolling.

Several members have passed away in recent years, including one who had, just days before, attended a dance, noted Tourigny.

Newcomers are heartily welcome, say organizers. The next dance is slated for Saturday, May 25, featuring live music by “Bushwhack.” Admission costs $8 for members (who pay $25 yearly to belong) and $10 for nonmembers. For more information, club contacts can be phoned at 978-249-6917, 603-357-0794 or 802-722-9205.

The club takes a yearly hiatus in December and restarts in February for a Valentines dance. Other “theme” dances include Western Night, and a costume party at Halloween.

But, even when disguised in costume, “When they dance, you know who they are,” Greenough says softly, with a warm smile, of the enduring dance buddies.

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