A senior prom for seniors

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Like most high schools, the one my daughter attends holds a Senior Prom.
However, in addition to the Senior Prom that honors the Senior Class, there is another.
The Student Government Association sponsors “Senior Citizens Prom,” for old folks — which to the kids is anyone over 50.
For the SGA it is a community event to raise money for whatever SGAs do.
For the Senior Citizens, mostly “Snowbirds” down to escape the icy north, it is a chance to PARTY.
The kids (with adult input and supervision) decorate the cafeteria, put together a “play list” of 50s and 60s songs, lay out heaps of food (made by Mamas and/or donated by local businesses), and get door prizes – also donated.  Then they get the word out to Snowbirds that for $10 each they can hit the buffet and dance the night away, at least from 6:00 to 9:00, when “Senior Citizens” need to be heading home.
As usual, my wife and daughter were in the thick of it, and I was on the periphery.  They told me what to wear (it was a 50s theme) and when to show up.
My two ladies went early to help with the last minute preparations.
I decided to time my arrival so as to be fashionably late, and make my entrance wearing what passed for 50s attire — blue jeans, white socks etc.
I had just left the house when my lovely calls to tell me to go back and change.  The Prom-goers were already arriving, dressed like they were going to a Prom — long dresses, sport coats, one guy was in a dinner jacket.
And while I was changing, I was to pick up a dress for my wife, who had gone 50s as well.
I did as I was told. When I got back the festivities were already underway and my baby girl was the Mistress of Ceremonies — dressed like Sandy from “Grease” and wielding the microphone like a  pro.
By my rough count there were close to 200 seniors there – a nice profit for the SGA, pure fun for the Promsters.
They hit the dance floor, and you could see from the way they moved that age had slowed them only slightly.  Some of those couples had obviously been partners since the 50s and could still bop, shag, and shuffle with style and grace.  And when the music slowed, they held on to each other as only old lovers can and do. Time turned back and they were young again.
Some came from the same Snowbird clubs and  knew each other. Newcomers were quickly absorbed into the group. They got all worked up over the door prizes, and when the guy who kept shouting “when you  gonna call 21” actually won something, the place erupted. As everyone knows, an all-you-can-eat-buffet is a Snowbird’s natural habitat, and they went at the food like locusts.  And when the King and Queen were crowned their “subjects” paid appropriate homage.
On the dance floor the kids joined in, leading them through YMCA, learning OHIO from the Yankees, and twisting and shouting to “Twist and Shout.”
I was ready to call 911 if one of the old guys hit the floor and begin to “Gator.”
Senior Citizens are into group participation.  So are teenagers.  It was a perfect match.  Conga lines, circle dances, hand jive, one group of oldsters even broke into a modified version of the Electric Slide, and the kids struggled mightily to catch on.
I, myself, took to the floor with the MC and quickly “Twist and Shout” became “pause and pant.”  I had anticipated not being able to keep up with my 17-year old, but when I saw my contemporaries going strong as I was fading, I knew I needed to get in better shape.
At 9:00 the MC called out “Last Dance,” and over cries of “more music” the strains of  “Goodnight Sweetheart” floated across the room.  The dancers, hardwired to go home when that song ended, took one more twirl around the floor and headed for the door.
The kids, worn out and happy, were also ready to call it a night.
As the Senior Citizens collected their stuff, they thanked us for the good time they had.  We thanked them for coming out to  support our children. As they left, they vowed to return next year.
So did my daughter and her friends.
“This was,” one of them said, “more fun than our Senior Prom.”
But next year my daughter and her friends will be off at college.
Will they come back to dance with the Senior Citizens?
We’ll see. But one thing is for certain.  That night the young folks discovered that the old folks know how to have a good time.
And why shouldn’t they? They’ve been doing it for years.
Harvey H. (Hardy) Jackson is Professor Emeritus of History at Jacksonville State University.  He can be reached at hjackson@cableone.net.

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