San Juan Dance Club: a second chance at love and dancing

Kelvin Lewis and Pat Douglas do cowboy cha-cha.

Whether it’s from taking dance lessons or attending dancing events across the western slope, a surprising number of people have found love on the dance floor with the San Juan Dance Club (SJDC).

Jerry Hillman and Donna Lynn met at a class last summer taught by the club’s co-founder, Ron Black.

Chuck and Karen show off some round dance moves at a recent Pavilion Senior Center dance.

Lynn lived in Boston, but was visiting her friend, Michelle Callahan, in Montrose when they decided to go dancing. After Lynn’s husband died and once she was ready to meet new people, she was determined to do it “the old fashioned way.”

“I always loved to dance, but hadn’t had any formal instruction,” she said.

But seeing the dancers glide across the floor reminded her of the dances she enjoyed attending as a child. Her husband never danced, and she’d never met a man who knew how to lead until Hillman came over and asked her to dance.

Back on the dance floor

Hillman was recruited to help Black lead the surplus of women who’d signed up for the class.

He met his wife of 27 years while taking his first lessons in 1988.

“I had been reading articles about how dancing was good for your brain. Having to learn new steps and patterns stimulates new connections,” he said.

Busy lives made it hard for Hillman to keep up with dancing, but after his wife died in 2015, he decided it was time to get back on the floor.

“I don’t think most men realize that women love to dance,” Hillman said. “They don’t need a guy who is a perfect dancer—they just want to dance!”

“He is a joy to dance with because he has a strong lead and has spacial memory wherein he can watch a dance move and do it without repetition.”

Pat Douglas grew up watching her parents dance in the kitchen.

“I’ve been dancing all my life—from standing on my father’s feet,” she said.

Ron Black instructs Bill Stewart in dance frame.

She even married a dance instructor. But after he passed away three years ago, she went to a dance at the Montrose Pavilion, which is where she met Kelvin Lewis.

“The first thing that attracted me to Kelvin is that he knew how to waltz,” she said. “He is a joy to dance with
because he has a strong lead and has spacial memory wherein he can watch a dance move and do it without repetition.”

Douglas, who teaches classes with Black, isn’t one for excuses—especially ones about having “two left feet.”

“I’ve seen you walking,” she said. “If you can walk, you can dance.”

Newlyweds Bill and June Stewart began taking lessons so they could dance at Colorado Wool Growers and cattlemen’s association events.

Ben Boggan and his wife, Maggie, started lessons a year ago as a fun thing to do before they got married last May. Unlike many who stop after marriage, they continue dancing because they enjoy it.

Dance along the Western Slope

SJDC sponsors dances in Montrose and provides members with a weekly email list of dances on the Western Slope. The club meets from 6:45-8 p.m. on Thursdays at the Lions Park Clubhouse. Black also teaches basic two-step, triple-step, waltz, swing, nightclub for couples and line dances for singles.

“I think if young men understood how a woman responds to a man that knows how to dance, they’d all be taking classes,” Lynn said.

For more information about San Juan Dance Club, call Black at 708-8333 or email thesjdanceco@gmail.com.

Gary Robertson

Gary Robertson

Gary Robertson has a bachelors degree in English. He has worked as a technical reporter in the oil field and has written five books on photography, biography and psychology. He has published photographs in numerous magazines, including five covers, and articles and internet blogs from self-help topics to travel.
Gary Robertson

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