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Tea dancers take the floor in Hancock

March 15, 2009|By DAVE McMILLION

HANCOCK -- Around the 1920s, some people in town can remember dancers strutting their stuff at the Monterey Hotel on Main Street.

That spirit came alive again Sunday when couples took to the dance floor at the Hancock Performing Arts Center.

About 90 people turned out at the center for a re-creation of a "tea dance," popularized during the 1920s and 1940s as a way for people to show off their dancing steps and socialize.

Couples danced and spun around the dance floor as the Tri State Big Band delivered songs like "Tea for Two," "Sentimental Journey" and "Who's Sorry Now."

In its second year, the tea dance gives the community an inexpensive form of entertainment that anyone can enjoy, said Sinclair Hamilton, chairman of the Hancock Arts Council, which sponsored the dance.

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Attendees were asked for a $5 donation to help pay for similar events.

The tea dance also gives local bands a venue to showcase their talent, Hamilton said.

The Tri State Big Band included at least a dozen members, including Mayor Daniel A. Murphy, who played a stand-up bass and announced the songs as the band played.

"He's a good musician," said Hamilton, a musician himself.

After the Tri State Big Band, the Hancock Waltz Kings were scheduled to take the stage at the center, which also serves as the Town Hall Community Center at High Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. The center used to be an elementary school.

The dance pointed to the continued popularity of big-band music.

Sunday's dancers talked about how they took dancing lessons locally and said there are other venues throughout the area that offer big-band dances.

Bob Taft and Nanine Rhinelander of Berkeley Springs, W.Va., said they regularly attend the weekend dances at PenMar Park during the summer.

"We get better and better," Rhinelander said.

Tables draped with linen tablecloths held fancy cookie arrangements and refreshments.

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