NEGAUNEE - It wasn't the Grand Ole Opry or Gilley's. It wasn't deep in the heart of Texas.
But it sure was country-fied in downtown Negaunee Sunday.
The Negaunee Senior Center hosted its first Country and Western Dance that afternoon. People from throughout the area were welcome to attend and kick up their heels for a few hours to the music of The Hart Beats.
Melvin and Carrie Hoiem of Palmer were decked out in cowboy finery for the first-ever Country and Western Dance at the Negaunee Senior Center Sunday. The event was a fundraiser for the center. (Journal photo by Renee Prusi)
And that's just what attendees did. From the first notes of the first song, Buck Owens's hit "Act Naturally," the dance floor was busy with two-steppers enjoying country and western music.
"We do different themes for dances all the time, Halloween and such," said Kristy Basolo, center coordinator. "But this is the first time we've done a country dance. I have had it in the back of my mind for some time. (The seniors) have mentioned they wanted it. I think they are enjoying it.
"My staff and I volunteer our time to do this," she said. "So it becomes a fundraiser for the center. Some people bring in desserts or beverages or salads and that helps keep the cost down for us."
"This is the first time we've done a country dance."
- KRISTY BASOLO, coordinator, Negaunee Senior Center
Teenaged student helpers are paid for their time at the dance, she said.
"They get paid for four hours," Basolo said. "But some of them volunteer some extra time, too. They did the decorating and they had a blast doing it."
The afternoon included a lunch plus non-alcoholic beverages for the attendees to enjoy. By all the dancing and socializing going on, it seemed a good time was being had by all.
"I like country and western music," said Ray Arpiainen as he listened to The Hart Beats. "And I like this band. They don't play hard rock. That I don't like."
His dance partner, Mary Parkkonen, was enjoying the music as well.
"They do such a nice job," she said of The Hart Beats. "This dance was a good idea. I love country music."
Parkkonen said George Jones is her favorite country music while Arpiainen is partial to Willie Nelson.
Carrie and Melvin Hoiem of Palmer were decked out in country gear, from their boots to their 10-gallon hats.
"I'm the sheriff today," Melvin Hoiem said, smiling as he pointed to the badge pinned to his shirt. "This is nice. We are looking forward to dancing today."
With the stand up bass and keyboards in full use by the band, the dancers kept going strong. Many used the chalk on the floor on the far side of the room to keep their shoes from being too slick for dancing.
"We always keep the decorations on hand," Basolo said. "So when we decide to have another country and western dance, we'll have that part all ready."
Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.