The years melt away as Marion White and Sheldon Nipp trip lightly across the dance floor.
The couple move in a smooth rhythm that they’ve developed as dance partners at the Victoria People Meeting People Dance Club. PMP, as its known, has been introducing people to new friends and dance partners for 30 years in the Capital Region.
“They make people welcome,” said White, who is president of the group. “It’s a really nice group of people.”
The group got its start as one of several social dance clubs around the city, but as fads wax and wane, many clubs folded over the years.
“We want to keep our numbers up,” said White. “Live music is one thing that distinguishes us from other groups out there.”
PMP members meet twice a month on Sunday evenings at Oak Bay’s Monterey Centre to mix and mingle and keep a beat.
“It’s a social dance group, so we don’t care how well you can dance,” said past-president Pam Beecroft. “Just get out there.”
People Meeting People is open to singles and couples and usually draws 30 to 50 people to its dances. “I don’t have a partner, so I go as a single, and I have to say I dance a lot,” said White, who often partners with Nipp, who often attends alone. “Women can ask too, there’s no fuss about women dancing with women. It’s a fully social kind of a thing – singles are more than welcome.”
Since its beginning, first at Victoria’s Crystal Garden and then the DaVinci Centre in Esquimalt, the club has operated out of the Monterey Centre for 18 of its 30 years.
“The Monterey Centre has been very good to us,” Beecroft said. The space can easily accommodate up to 125 dancers and they are able to offer refreshments, however there is no alcohol allowed.
“Dancing mixed with alcohol doesn’t work,” said Beecroft. “If you get tipsy you can’t do the things you want to do. It’s pretty healthy, dancing is one of the best things you can do for exercise. It’s equal to or better than running. Ballroom gets quite strenuous.”
While PMP is not a ballroom dance club and doesn’t teach lessons, the group is open to all skill levels – as long as you grab a partner.
“We have Paul Jones mixers. The men stand in the middle with the ladies around them,” said Beecroft. “We waltz, we fox trot, we rhumba – all sorts. Just dance to your ability.”
Many dancers will attend a few times, then decide to take a few lessons to brush up on their skills, but White said it’s not a necessity. “Good dancers are good leaders. If you have a sense of rhythm you can follow (his lead),” she said.
While most dancers are past retirement age, there is no age restriction to the club. “Lots of club members are close to retired or retired, but if you think older people are over the hill, turn on a jive and watch them move,” said Beecroft.
As the club’s name implies, it’s a great way to make friends and meet new people. “A lot of people have met their life partners there. … Lots of people have met and married. If you dance well together it’s a good way to keep a marriage or partnership together,” Beecroft said.
Many couples use the dance club as a date night, White added. It’s also an excellent opportunity for those taking dance lessons to practice their skills, and enjoy novelty dances and door prizes.
The Victoria People Meeting People Dance Club is celebrating its 30th anniversary from 6 to 10 p.m. on Feb. 24 with a special dinner and dance at the Monterey Centre with the Parisiennes Band. Anyone who is interested is welcome to attend, said Beecroft. “Past members are very welcome to come and get connected with us again for old time’s sake.”
Tickets for the special evening celebration are available until Feb. 10 by calling Beecroft at 250-360-0206.
Membership in the club is $20 per year and admission to regular dances is $8 for members, $10 for non-members. Dances run twice a month at the Monterey Centre, 1442 Oak Bay Ave., from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. For more information go to victoriapmp.com.