The flyer posted in the Oak Crest clubhouse read, "Does rock and roll soothe your soul?" For more than 200 residents at Oak Crest, the Erickson Senior Living community in Parkville, Md., the answer is a resounding yes!
Every month, they come together to enjoy Jukebox Friday Nights, singing, dancing, and laughing along to their favorite songs from the '50s, '60s, and '70s.
"It's a great opportunity to socialize and have fun," says Kathleen Sergi, a resident who organizes the monthly dances. "When I moved to Oak Crest in 2018, I was looking for a way to meet people and have a good time. There were other groups and events, but nothing that featured rock and roll music, so I met with the Resident Life staff to inquire about starting something," she says.
Every fourth Friday of the month, from 7 to 9 p.m. in Erickson Hall, residents gather for a night of music, dancing, snacks, and soft drinks for just $5. In collaboration with fellow Resident Advisory Coucil members like Linda Palmer and a host of volunteers, Kathleen handles the logistics of the dances, from advertising and ticket sales to snacks and decorations.
Twist and shout!
Steve Roberts, a retired Baltimore County firefighter, takes care of the music. "I have a large collection of music. It's been my hobby over the years," he says. "I choose the most popular songs from the Billboard Top 100 list, but they have to be danceable. The nice thing about rock and roll is you don't need a partner to get up and dance, so if you're single, you can still get out there and have a good time."
Steve enjoys mixing up the musical styles. "I try to stick with the '50s, '60s, and '70s, but I am starting to throw in some '80s. I've got the Beatles, Kool & the Gang, Three Dog Night, Elvis, Ray Charles, you name it! I also play crowd favorites like "Hand Jive," "Hokey Pokey," "Electric Slide," and "The Stroll."
Two large projector screens with videos and photos provide the perfect backdrop to the music.
"I had been to dances outside of Oak Crest where they had screens showing scenes of Baltimore, old Baltimore celebrities, baseball players, and so on," says Steve. "I thought, 'Well, we have two big movie screens with a digital projector.' So, I plug my computer in and I can project videos and photos while the songs are playing. For example, if I play a song from the Beach Boys, I might show photos of Ocean City, Md. So, even if you aren't dancing, you are still entertained."
'It's a blast'
For Steve, seeing his friends and neighbors having fun is worth all the time he invests in preparing for the dances.
"It's a blast watching people dance and laugh," says Steve. "That's what I enjoy most! Sometimes I get cards and notes from people thanking me and telling me they had a good time. I've had people ask me, 'How long have you been doing this?' Did you deejay before this?' I laugh because this is just a hobby."
In fact, he notes, "I'm not usually very outgoing. I'm actually an introvert! Something about seeing people having fun motivates me."
Oak Crest offers a wide range of opportunities to socialize, including dining with neighbors, participating in clubs and activities, and volunteering. Many residents note that they have been far more active and social since moving to the community.
Research shows that spending time with others can promote healthier living and longevity.
"Staying active is the most important thing you can do for your health!" says Laura Selvage, Oak Crest's community resources coordinator and former fitness trainer at the on-site fitness center. "Jukebox Friday Nights is just one of the 180 resident-run groups offered here at Oak Crest. It's a wonderful way to have fun, meet new folks, and stay active."
A group effort
Making each month's event special takes a lot of work and collaboration. While Steve takes care of the entertainment, Kathleen and Linda collect the reservations and, along with a handful of volunteers, help set up the auditorium, guide guests to their seats, and handle any other tasks that arise.
"I make my rounds during the dance, talking to people and making sure everything is running smoothly," says Kathleen. "Occasionally, there are some fires to put out, but my biggest joy is when I circulate at the dances and see people talking, laughing, dancing, and having a good time."
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