Orofino Dance Club (ODC) started over 50 years ago and there are still a few active members who started way back then. Members have dwindled with time and people moving away.

Those remaining members would really like to see this group make a comeback, and need new members.  Savvy Senior recognizes these couples and believed the best way to promote the club, was to hear from the members directly.  

Evelyn and Courtney McLean

We are the only remaining original couple of the initial club. Our first dances were held in the Fackenthall’s barn at Ahsahka and everyone always had a good time. Word got out and more people joined. We needed to find a bigger place.

We moved to Konkolville’s ballroom, where we then had a limit of 35 couples and still had a waiting list!

Members help select the venue and the music.   They dance to swing and country, waltz, western swing, two step, cha-cha, line dance, old time rock ‘n roll, to 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, and current.  They invite anyone interested to come as their guest to see how much fun dancing is. 

Lee and Les Norland

By Lee Norland

The first meeting of the Orofino Dance Club was April 19, 1979 at Fackenthall’s dance barn to organize. It was decided to have our first dance May 19, from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. with live music and refreshments.

The board was asked to bring couples that they felt would be interested in joining. Dues were $30 per couple. Our first officers were Les Norland, President, and Lee Norland, Secretary/Treasurer. Board members included: Jim and Jackie McIver, Jack and Darleen O’Keefe, John and Faye Schultz, Ike and Bonnie Fackenthall, Monk and Joyce Montgomery, and Lee and Les Norland.

The Board always sponsored the first dance of the season and we would dance from September to May, with no dances during the months of December or January. All dances would be set up by various committees. Music was secured by the dues. Membership was held to 35 couples, which we held for many seasons, with a waiting list of those wanting to join.

Today we have trouble getting members. People do not realize the fun they are missing. Live music, great food, and dancing, which is wonderful exercise. It’s something that can be done whether you’re young or young at heart, and is right here in our community.

Bob and Alice Hardy

Bob and I were introduced to the Orofino Dance Club about 1977 or so by Jim and Jackie McIver.  They had already been going for quite a few years.  There was a live band at every dance which I thought was really fantastic and loved all of them. At that time our dances were held either at Konkolville’s Ballroom or the VFW.

We were quite elegant in those days.  We dressed in our nicest clothes and some of our club ladies loved to decorate.

We have been steady members of the organization ever since we joined it and hope we can keep it going.  We are always ready to go out and dance with friends, making more all the time.

When we first joined there were 50 couples and it was really fantastic.  Then as time went on more and more moved or passed or just “could not make it any more”.  Now we are down to about 12 couples.  We encourage everyone to help to spread the word to those who might be interested.

The first dance we would like you and your dancing partner to come as our guests.   We meet the first Saturday of every month from 8 p.m to midnight.  Refreshments are served.  Bring a couple of friends with you and have a great night dancing out the night.

Bob and I were fortunate enough to have a 16 year-old foreign exchange student from the Ukraine staying with us one spring.   She loved music.  When our dance night came up we brought her along too.    She loved the concept of our age group continuing to dance at our age.

We hope to see you, bring a dancing partner and some friends with you.  

Scotty and Cindy Gentry

Retiring after the second career (first, the military, then Corporate Defense) and returning to the hills and beauty and small town living I enjoyed as a child, we have enjoyed gathering with the Orofino Dance Club, since 2009, to enjoy live music and fellowship with those who for a lifetime, have enjoyed dancing as a social outlet (or a way to exercise and have fun at the same time).

Living outside of a city where there are many activities and time consuming things to capture our free time, there are fewer social activities upon which to draw. But the Dance Club provides that social interaction without the “busyness” of city life.

There are always storytelling and news shared, remembrances of life past, along with the “boot scooting” time and of course, that all important pleasure “sharing great food from potluck”.

If you are new to the area or just want to enjoy good music, fellowship, dancing and good food, come join us.

Joan and Mike Mount

By Joan Mount

About 40 years ago, this tall, handsome man named Les Norland came into our shop when our nursery was up on Michigan Ave. on Orofino Creek. He invited us to consider joining Orofino Dance Club.

We were delighted and flabbergasted; perhaps he had heard about us honky-tonking downtown on Friday and Saturday nights because we loved to dance so much.

Mike had played in a country western band for 25 years (his only “paying” hobby) and was so glad to be on the other side of the bandstand. Orofino was a going and blowing town in the 70’s, full of young, hardworking, hard playing people with about four live bands every weekend. We all drove “the circuit” from bar to bar to dance the nights away. What a delight to be asked to join a club of like-minded dancers.

The first dance we went to we were astonished at all these “old” people tottering around the floor, dancing every dance! We were the youngest couple in the club. Now we are those “old” people dancing every dance.

Some of our best friends were made through the Orofino Dance Club and definitely the best memories.

Cliff Kleer swinging petite Darlene around the floor, always dancing in his red socks. Morrie Snyder and Mary dipping and swaying. Morrie loved to tango, he was a great ballroom dancer – he loved to click his teeth the whole time.

One can’t forget Morrie entertaining us with “I Left My Heart in San Francisco”, or warbling “Yellow Bird”, which was Les and Lee Norland’s favorite. They loved to samba (or maybe it was the rhumba) to that tune. Les was my Clark Kent hero-type, a wonderful ballroom dancer gently handling his diminutive wife Lee, with such skill.

We used to call Jack and Darlene O’Keefe, our twinkle toes dancers, she in her spiked high heels and he in his polished loafers, dancing to their favorite tune, “Cab Driver”.

No one cared what your dance style was, just that you loved to dance, and everyone was always coming up and asking to trade (dances or dancers?). I sort of prided myself on being able to dance with just about anyone. Then there was a couple who joined the club and the husband had the most peculiar dance style. He would rest his head on my “chest” and I would close my eyes (it helps if you are not familiar with someone’s style) and around the Konkolville ballroom we would go. I always wondered what the other dancers thought, but oh well!

George Cross was a retired physical education instructor from Montana State University and retired as the oldest smoke jumper in America. Boy, could he out-twist me on the dance floor. A few years ago he moved to Phoenix, AZ, after Marietta died.

George started going to dances down there and asked the bands for country western tunes. When they replied that’s what they were playing, he said, “I’m from Oklahoma, Montana, and Idaho, and that sure isn’t country western!”

Bill Walker, retired Forest Service worker used to issue his rebel yell when someone was cutting up on the dance floor, then tell the band to “pipe down, this is just as much a visitor’s club as a dance club.”

All the ladies of the various month’s committees would bring their best dishes. Our dearest friend, Bernie Easterbrook was famous for her kokanee sandwiches, but I’ll never forget Frenny Frensdorf saying, “Why would you spoil a good drinking night by stopping to eat!” Frensdorf’s had the first helicopter service here, in the field behind King’s Store.

People like Porky and Sarah Portfors, the Debertins, Emory and Nanny Noble, Les and Lee Norland all set the standard. You had to admire Courtney McLean and Chuck Easterbrook, who had just come in from the woods, making the effort to get all cleaned up to come dancing.

And how about Barb and Norm Fitzsimmons, Mister Wise-acre, with the greatest jokes (to this day) to entertain us at break time? There are dozens of wonderful friends we’ve had the pleasure of knowing and dancing with over the last 40 years and look forward to more years with “younger people.”

Bill Nye, “the science guy” was interviewed last year on CBS about his progressive neurological disease that is slowly robbing him of his balance. His mother and sister also suffer from the same malady. He said he had tried everything: calisthenics, Tai Chi, karate, cross fit training, yoga, etc. and he had found the one physical engagement that helped him the most was ballroom dancing!

Please consider coming to dance with us.

Sam and Terry Lester

Sam and I joined the Dance Club after our friends, Mike and Joan Mount invited us out to check it out. It was just terrific. The music was always great, the food was always good and of course, what a great way to get together with friends and, make new friends.

Unlike the bars, the dance floors are plenty big, there is no smoking and you can actually hold a conversation. We always went to the VFW, the drinks are very reasonable, and the atmosphere was always fun. The food committee was set up ahead of time, and the food was always plentiful and very good. 

We have had to back out over the last few years, mainly due to knee replacements for Sam. We are hoping to get started again, we have always loved to dance and hang out with our friends. It’s a lot of fun, comfortable, and good exercise. 

It would be really great if more people would join in, it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.

Norm and Barbara Fitzsimmons

We have belonged to the Orofino Dance Club for many years. We have enjoyed this activity greatly. Not only do we enjoy the music and dancing, we have made many friends that we would not have known otherwise. This has broadened our contacts to include many different interests and interesting individuals.

The music is supplied by many different musicians and groups in the region. The variety of good old-fashioned, danceable music is sought for each event. We are not fancy dancers, nor do we have big goals to impress anyone – just to relax, visit and enjoy a good time.

We take turns with multiple couples providing a snack break midway during each 8 p.m. to midnight event. During the less active winter months we enjoy a night out with old and new friends to enjoy a wholesome good time.

We always invite any new couples that like to enjoy good music and dancing to join us.

Robbie Morin

I have always loved to dance, from Swing in the living room with my dear mother, and rock and roll through the 70’s and and then some country and more swing, in college I never had dance lessons other than on the dance floor and learned to follow.

   Yes, you have to work the head and the feet and the arms builds coordination.  It helps keep the mind and body alert and in good physical condition.   

Dance anywhere, at home in the kitchen or living room, at social functions, out with the Orofino Dance Club to live music with a great group of fun people. 

As busy as my life is, I really need to make more time to dance. It’s fun, it’s great exercise, good social activity, you meet new people who enjoy dancing.

Excuses:   I don’t know how to dance.  I have two left feet.   One of my favorite instructors, Tony Snodderly, says “if you can walk, you can dance.”   And he is so right.  Some people make it look so easy and some do some fantastic moves, and with a few lessons and some practice, you can have fun and look really good out there too.

I love seeing the older couples some in their 90’s still dancing together, smiling and enjoying being in each other’s arms, moving to the music.  Everyone is smiling on the dance floor... it doesn’t matter what style you dance, just getting up and moving to the music is dancing.... 

I learned in dance classes some etiquette, which was really great--and one of those is to let the person you ask to dance with know what style of dance you intend to dance, i.e. “Would you like to two-step?”  or “Would you like to waltz? or rock ‘n roll?” 

And always take your dance partner back to the table or place where you asked them, unless they say otherwise.

Protect and edify, and always thank your dance partner for the dance. 

One lady I know shakes all the time.  When I see her on the dance floor she’s always smiling.  I commented about how happy she looks on the dance floor and she shared that “when she dances, she doesn’t shake.”    

I love sharing my enthusiasm for dancing, because it is an activity and even a sport that one can do forever.

People comment that I am always smiling when I’m dancing, and I guess I do.  I am happy inside when I’m dancing, and especially happy when I am following and the feet are moving in the right direction.

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