You’re never too old to have a good time

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 9, 2009



DESTREHAN – What began as a vision of a social club where seniors could gather regularly has now evolved into a monthly dance party and dinner that attracts participants from all over the River Parishes.

The Oldies But Goodies Dance and Social Club is a non-profit organization of seniors who participate in an assortment of volunteer work all while socializing and as member Elizabeth Simoneaux described it, “passing a good time.”

Simoneaux, who has been with the club about a year, said the idea was born in 2006 out of the minds of Erick and Pat St. Amant, who were looking to create a safe and secure gathering place where the senior population could socialize and spend an afternoon dancing to their favorite music.

With a plan in place, the St. Amants enlisted the help of their cousins, Marie and Gary Matherne, who could provide a wealth of musical entertainment.

“Gary has a real passion for collecting and preserving music,” Simoneaux said. “If anyone could provide the music that would appeal to the crowd they had in mind, they knew that it was Gary.”

The first dance took place at the original VFW home in Norco, with about 30 people in attendance. Simoneaux said a contest was eventually held to name the group, and the Oldies But Goodies Dance & Social Club was born.

After continued dances throughout the year, the club raised enough money to repay their equipment loan in full. As their community involvement increased, they began to host various functions including New Year’s Eve Dances.

After several dances, Gary’ astute disc jockey skills earned him the moniker of “Dr. Music.” Simoneaux said Gary’s personal collection of music, comprising many years, is impressively large and comprehensive.

“It is amusing to watch the surprised expressions on the faces of those who request a rare recording and hear it only a few moments later,” she said.

Simoneaux said Gary and his assistants volunteer their DJ services for events at the Evangeline of Ormond Nursing Home, the St. Charles Parish Council on Aging and the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program of the River Parishes. Club members have said spirit of volunteering is the exact vision the core group had when uniting to form the club.

“Their collective desire was to provide a bit of pleasure and entertainment for the single, widowed and older citizens of our area,” Simoneaux said.

Today, Simoneaux said, the dances have evolved into monthly potluck themed dances, where members may choose to dress or costume in the spirit of the theme. Recent dances have included Mardi Gras, Crazy Hats, St. Patrick’s Day, Favorite Team Colors, 50s, Hawaiian Luau and Red, White & Blue. Simoneaux said October’s dance, set for Sunday, Oct. 18, will be a Halloween costume party. The popularity has lead organizers to create a photo album the Web site www.oldiesbutgoodies.zoomshare. com.

In addition to the volunteer efforts of the DJs, Simoneaux said other members volunteer their time at nursing homes. The club also makes donations to various charities and other needy causes. Simoneaux said all of the efforts are in the spirit of the organization’s mission:

“To advocate awareness and respect for the contributions of our elder generation, by providing a safe, uplifting environment for fellowship and creativity, encouraging their guidance and participation in charitable fund-raising projects and assisting in the fulfillment of their legacy of positive societal enrichment.”