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A little music ... a little exercise ... a little romance

A woman in a black and white striped shirt and black pants walks up to the stage.

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"Can we get a tango?"

The band obliges and the woman and her partner begin to glide across the dance floor. Other couples rise from tables and join them, backs straight, faces relaxed.

It's a familiar routine in more ways than one for many of the dozens of dancers at the Largo Community Center last Thursday afternoon. Every second Thursday of the month, the Ellis Hale Combo performs at the center's Tea Dance. The combo plays big band music and can accommodate a request at a moment's notice.

"That's what we're here for," said Ellis Hale, the leader of the combo that also includes Eric Blana and Louis Girolami.

The combo's drums, keyboard and saxophone keep the party going strong.

"We just try to mix up the music, cha-cha, rumba, waltzes … They like the variety," Hale said. "It's a nice place to play. They're friendly here. Largo is a good host. They're good to us."

The toe-tapping tunes alone draw some seniors to the center. Jim Buss of Belleair has been coming to the event for a couple of years but doesn't dance.

"I like to listen to the music," he said. "I don't know why more people don't come. What else can you do for an afternoon of entertainment?"

Others arrive on their own but don't let that spoil their fun. Lillian Bachorski of Largo pays her $5 and quickly moves into the room. "I like to dance. I'll find somebody," she said.

Linda and John Niner of Seminole also dance at the Gulfport Casino and The Coliseum in St. Petersburg. They found out about the Largo Tea Dance by word of mouth.

"The dancing's good and the music's good," John Niner said.

"Ellis Hale is a wonderful band and we like the atmosphere here," Linda added.

Cliff Burrell and Arlene Samuel of Gulfport also have a full dance card. "We dance all over … St. Pete, Gulfport," Arlene said.

As the rumba changes to a cha-cha, many mention health or practical reasons for why they move to the beat. Richard Collins, 86, of Largo said he learned to dance in 10th grade.

"(It's) good exercise and I like music," he said.

Marie Rimi of Largo agreed. "Good exercise — good for your brain," she said.

Marie's dance partner, Paul Morris, pointed out the benefit to a daytime dance: "It's good if you can't see to drive at night."

But others say it's all about romance. Ethel and Bill Aldrich have been married for 45 years. "She can hang on to me," Bill said.

Bev and Nick Nuzzi of Seminole savor each step.

"I'm 81 1/2!" Nick Nuzzi said.

"We schedule everything around our dances," Bev said.

Six years ago, the couple met at a Gulfport dance studio and later married.

"It's nice to share something that both you and your partner enjoy," Bev said.

They abruptly stand up and move to the floor. As they start swaying together, Bev called back, "We don't want to miss any dances!"

. If you go

Tea dances

When: 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. every second Thursday of the month. The next one is July 8.

Where: Largo Community Center, 65 Fourth St. NW, Largo.

Cost: $5

For more information: Visit www.largo.com or (727) 518-3131.

A little music ... a little exercise ... a little romance 06/15/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 15, 2010 6:22pm]
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