From filling out formal dance cards to the limbo and modern line-dancing, the Upper Arlington Freshman Dinner Dance Club looks a little different after 60 years, but the shy smiles and the laughter go on as freshmen mix, mingle and dance as part of a longstanding community tradition.
Held for freshmen attending Upper Arlington High School, the first of three dinner dances Jan. 25 at the OSU Golf Club had a dressy theme, with girls and guys in formal wear, organizer Liz Easton said.
"The dances are a great way to teach kids etiquette, like how to sit down at a formal meal and how to socialize and interact with each other," she said. "It's a great tradition in our community."
The OSU Golf Club catered the dinner and a disc jockey coordinated the music.
Easton said about 64 students attended the first dance. Many began their dinner dance club experience in the Junior Dance Club at Hastings and Jones middle schools, she said.
Junior Dance Club is led by an instructor, who teaches students to properly dance with a partner.
Parents of freshmen organize the Freshman Dinner Dance Club each year, but it is not a school-sponsored event. In addition to Easton, committee members this year were Christine Auch, Dawne Brooks, Sherry Dean, Valerie Goettler, Tiffany Lhota, Kathy Masters, Becky Scholl, Peggy Sears, Nicki Weaver and Amy Winslow.
Sears herself attended a dinner dance in 1982, when she was a freshman.
"We had to fill out formal dance cards then, so you went around the room filling out your cards first," she said. "It was very old-fashioned and I don't remember if the boys had to ask the girls -- it may have been more like, 'Do you have dance No. 3 filled out?'
"You did have to have a specific person on your card for each dance," she recalled.
Sears said the dance cards are gone but the dances are still organized.
"We assigned boys and girls to each table where they had dinner, so for the first dance, they had to find a partner at their table," she said. "From there, they found partners for some of the dances on their own. For one dance, though, we had all the boys' names in a fishbowl and the girls lined up to pick a name."
She said the disc jockey played popular music and students participated in line dancing, "a big Conga line" and a limbo contest.
"It's a fun activity to do in the winter, when we can't be outside," Sears said. "It may be a little out of the comfort zone of some of the freshmen, but they seemed to have a lot of fun and the adult chaperones kept commenting on how well-behaved the kids were."
The students pay $80 to attend three dinner dances, with the funds subsidizing a senior celebration for each class.
The next dance is "Mardi Gras" with students asked to dress in "white, casual clothes," from 7 to 10 p.m. Feb. 22 at the Swim & Racquet Club, 3500 Kenny Road. Beads and masks will be provided.
The third dance will follow a Western theme from 7 to 10 p.m. March 22 at Amelito Mirolo Barn, 4395 Carriage Hill Lane.