Let’s dance! Ironwood High students learn dances, life lessons from seniors

Darrell and Dorothy Hogg show Ironwood High School students how to Waltz during dance lessons for the Senior Prom, at Ironwood High School in Glendale. [Independent Newsmedia/Jacob Stanek]

Ironwood High School students learned dance moves and life lessons from local senior citizens before going to the prom – the Senior Citizen Prom, that is.

The Student Council hosted the annual Senior Citizen Prom, Feb. 18, at the school. The popular social event that includes dinner, music and dancing, not only crowns a king and queen, but helps bridge the generation gap between students and the 55-plus population.

“It’s been a really cool event for the two generations to learn from each other,” said Student Council Advisor Kathy Wilson as her students practiced for the dance. “It’s one of my kids’ favorite events of the whole year. It’s fun.”

She said some students asked to bring their grandparents on dates to the senior citizen dance that’s been held at the school for nearly 15 years, with regular attendees, and profits benefiting the American Cancer Society.

Ms. Wilson fondly remembered a man, celebrating his 100th birthday, at last year’s event, who never went to a prom before.

Meanwhile, excited council members received dance instructions from Sun City residents, Darrell and Dorothy Hogg, Feb. 15. The 2012 Senior Citizen Prom King and Queen demonstrated classy dances such as Ballroom, Foxtrot, Rumba and Swing so the kids visualized the moves.

“We’re not really great at it, but it’s nice that older people come to teach us how they dance,” said Katelyn Cooper, 17, before the lesson began.

“Try not to take such big steps. Remember you got a leader and a follower,” said Mr. Hogg, 86, as he counted out loud. “Start with your left foot.”

“Your other left,” added Ms. Hogg, 80, to a student. She recommended playing a Judy London song, “I’m in the Mood for Love” for the kids to practice one of the routines.

“We’ve gone to the Senior Prom that the school puts on for the last 10 years,” said Ms. Hogg, adding that she wears sexy dresses for the gala while her husband dons a tuxedo.

She said it was important to teach the youngsters how to dance since “they can’t dance,” and they needed to learn how to dance with the seniors. And, the “old men want to dance with those young, cute girls” scantily clad.

“Swing is more like their dances. It’s the real deal,” Ms. Hogg said, likening that dance to a style youngsters are more accustomed to.

Antonio Borboa, 17, said it was refreshing to learn from a couple who sacrificed their time to help them two consecutive years.

“We will definitely use it in the future. If we go to a wedding or a Quinceañera, we can break out the moves and impress someone,” Borboa said, noting that he can even use the moves at his own upcoming prom.

He and Kiara Sanchez, 18, already attended three Senior Citizen Proms before.

“It’s definitely great for my generation to see how this is done,” Sanchez said, pointing out the differences in dance styles between the generations. “Their generation is very conservative and classy. You don’t get that with my generation.”

Borboa said it is eye-opening because you get to sit down and talk to them.

“It’s cute when they start saying, ‘I remember when I did…,’” Mr. Borboa added. “I like talking to everybody. They always have a story to tell.”

He said he liked seeing some of the regulars, especially a lady named “Purple” who actually dresses in all purple from head-to-toe.

“She’s the nicest lady ever. It’s great meeting new people willing to take time out their schedule even though they don’t have to,” Mr. Borboa said.

Peoria Unified School District spokeswoman Erin Dunsey said the event averages 80-100 people to strengthen connections in the community. A student council member from the Class of 2003 started the tradition that has grown through the years.

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