Clement Center dances uneasy two-step

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Changes to the Saturday night dance schedule at the Clements Community Center have upset some senior attendees, but appear to be here to stay.

The Saturday dances have been going on at Clements, 1580 Yarrow St., since the 1970s, and have become a favorite activity for older adults in the community.

In January the schedule was changed from every Saturday night to the second and forth Saturday of each month, and a tea dance was added on the first Friday of each month in the afternoon.

The changes were in response to different community needs and an opportunity to open the center up for other activities.

“We talk a lot about being responsive to change, when we see a need for change in the community,” said Allison Scheck, marketing and community relations administrator. “We monitored attendance and received feeback from community groups about wanting to rent the space at the center.”

Scheck said there was enough interesting wanting to rent the space, that the city decided to switch to twice a month to offer other groups a chance to make use of the space.

“As our population ages, it gets harder to see during the night when driving, and so we thought the afternoon tea dance would be a good way to address this,” she said.

Some seniors, like Mary Heckendorn, 88, weren’t too happy about the changes.

“We had a petition signed asking about why this happened, and I wrote to the mayor about this issue as well,” Heckendorn said. “In July we were able to get back a dance on the third Saturday of each month as well.”

Heckendorn said she worries that the changes are confusing seniors who are looking to attend the dances, and that this might be an effort to eventually get rid of the dances.

“They assured us that they’re not trying to cancel the dances, and just want to add some different programming at the center,” she said. “I think they have taken something valuable from the community. The dances are great for exercise, socializing and something for seniors to look forward to.”

Roxy Johnson, the class and travel coordinator with the city, said that at this point a good balance has been struck and now they’re looking for more ways to inform people about the dances.