95-year-old steps out in style for his birthday at Rustington dance class
One active 95-year-old man has spent more than 70 years learning sequence dances, with no plans to give up any time soon.
Ken and Joan Hawkins and his wife Joan are regular dancers at Just Dansz, which has classes at the Woodlands Centre in Rustington and Angmering Community Centre.
The group had a special celebration for Ken’s 95th birthday, enjoying some cake and decorating the hall for one of the dance classes.
Ken, who attends dance classes with Joan three times a week, then marked his special day on February 9, with family and friends.
He started dancing at the end of World War Two, when he was 22, and has been learning hundreds of sequence routines since then, adding more to his repertoire all the time.
Jenny Miland-Taylor, dance instructor at Just Dansz, said: “He is a smashing guy, very with it, and has a naughty gleam in his eye – proof that dancing is good for keeping mind and body working.”
Ken and Joan are more active than some people half their age, trying to get out most days for a walk, if it is not raining, and dancing as often as they can.
They enjoy sequence dancing, which is a type of ballroom dancing in which the couples all perform the same steps and movements simultaneously.
The pair said dancing and learning the steps to each routine has helped to prolong their lives.
Ken said: “We are all happy and the programme changes from week to week so we do not get bored with the same dances. It is far from monotonous and is lovely to learn.
“It tests our memories with such a wide variety of steps to learn.”
One way they make the most of going out dancing is making sure they dress up nicely and are always seen in smart clothes. The couple said they ‘like to dress for the occasion’.
Ken and Joan’s main piece of advice for staying active and enjoying life into old age was to ‘keep dancing, keep living and enjoy yourself’.
Ken said: “We are really enjoying ourselves and they make us so welcome and even have time to have a cup of tea.
“Jenny is a good teacher and we do enjoy going to the group, we would highly recommend it to people.”
Just Dansz is primarily a sequence dance group with weekly tea dance, classes and a monthly Saturday dance, and a monthly ballroom, Latin and sequence dance.
There are options for both beginners and improvers and the classes are run on a variety of dates throughout each month.
For more information about getting involved with learning to dance like Ken and Joan, visit www.areyoudancing.com/dance-directory/4205