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LJ Presbyterian Church offers swing lessons

La Jolla Presbyterian Church will host its second dance event of the year on Feb. 21.

The season opener, held Jan. 24, attracted more than 70 attendees and was deemed a success by the church’s singles’ ministry coordinator, Connie Massey.

“People said, ‘Oh, you won’t get more than 20,’” Massey said. “We fooled them, didn’t we?”

As word of the monthly dance spreads, Massey hopes the crowd will top 100.

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A long-time tradition and popular happening for several years, the 2009 season launched with a new theme: “Life is a Dance - If You Take the Steps.”

“It means have fun,” Massey said. “Life is short. Get out there and have fun.”

Held monthly, except for July and August, the event begins at 6 p.m. with an hour-long dance lesson from instructor Dennis Keith. Things start jumping by 7 p.m. when the dance floor fills up. DJ Ron Jones, a well-known La Jolla personality, keeps the music playing until 9:30 p.m.

Citing a lack of social and dance venue options for people older than 60 in San Diego, including La Jolla, Jones said the event is popular because it is geared toward mature adults.

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He said there has also been renewed interest in dancing because of shows like “Dancing With the Stars.”

Keith has no shortage of students, both at the monthly dances and the weekly lessons he’s been teaching for more than seven years.

“When I do classes, I’ve always kind of done it as a community service project,” he said.

Each Monday, Keith offers free instruction at La Jolla Presbyterian Church, 7715 Draper Ave. The Beginners West Coast Swing class runs from 7 to 8 p.m., followed by an hour of Intermediate to Advanced West Coast Swing. From 9 to 9:30 p.m., Keith alternates between the Night Club Two-Step and The Hustle.

With plenty of opportunities to master swing basics, Keith said there is no reason to be intimidated about trying something new.

“Everybody at one point in their life or another was a beginner,” he said. “The main thing is to not get discouraged.”

Jones said the event is more than just a dance. Hosted in the church’s Fellowship Hall, he said the ambiance is more like a country club than a church. With his distinctive blend of music and showmanship, Jones’ goal is to create an exciting night out for dancers and nondancers.

“It’s a good social activity,” Massey said. “It’s a nice, safe atmosphere, you’re meeting nice people and it gives you good exercise.”

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“Life is a Dance” begins with dance instruction at 6 p.m. Singles and couples are welcome; ticket prices are $10 per person or $15 for two people. Free parking is available at the corner of Draper and Kline streets.

Upcoming events are scheduled for March 28, April 25, May 30 and June 27. For more information, contact Connie Massey at (858) 729-5573 or

conniem@ljpres.org

.