Dancing the night away

A friendly at­mo­sphere and the al­lure of the dance floor at­tract plenty of movers and shakers to an en­joy­able weekly out­ing at the As­so­ci­ated Pol­ish Home.

Ben Sa­luk and Ashly Marder thank each oth­er for the dance sur­ing the ball­room weekly gath­er­ing at the As­so­ci­ated Pol­ish Home, Wed­nes­day, Feb­ru­ary 1, 2012, Phil­adelphia, Pa. The Pol­ish Home provides mem­ber­ship for those of Pol­ish descned and spon­sor a vari­ety of events throughout the year. (Maria Pouch­nikova)


Dave and Pat Pot­ter met sev­en years ago at the weekly ball­room dance ses­sion at the As­so­ci­ated Pol­ish Home.

“We’ve been dan­cing ever since,” Dave said.

The Far North­east couple were mar­ried four years ago, and their best man was Al­bert Mari­ani, the eld­er states­man of the Wed­nes­day night dan­cers un­til he moved to Flor­ida last year at age 100.

The Pot­ters dance each week in Warmin­ster, Bris­tol Town­ship and the South Jer­sey towns of Bell­mawr and Bur­l­ing­ton, but they really look for­ward to the gath­er­ing at the Pol­ish Home, at 9150 Academy Road.

“This is our fa­vor­ite dance,” Pat said. “We know every­body here.”

Ac­cord­ing to par­ti­cipants, the dances have been tak­ing place off and on for 20 years.

The guys and gals dance from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m., with en­ter­tain­ment provided by a ro­tat­ing group of mu­si­cians such as Rich­ie Moore, Peter Thomas, Bobby Block and Good Times. The good times roll 12 months out of the year.

One of the main at­trac­tions is the pro­fes­sion­al hard­wood dance floor.

“It’s a hel­luva nice place to have a dance. It’s some­where we can go to feel com­fort­able. And the floor is dy­nam­ite,” said Frank Cap­puccino, a fam­ous box­ing ref­er­ee who dances with his wife, Florence, and also sings the stand­ards of Frank Sinatra, Tony Ben­nett and Vic Da­mone.

The cost is $8 for mem­bers and $10 for non-mem­bers. There’s cof­fee, cake and pastries, a cash bar and a 50-50 draw­ing. Every­one’s birth­day is cel­eb­rated.

“I come here for the lively crowd and su­perb mu­sic every week,” said Holmes­burg’s Peg Ry­bas, 76. “It’s a happy place to meet people. There are al­ways pro­fes­sion­al mu­si­cians, and the ladies can wear their beau­ti­ful clothes. You get a lot for your money.”

Ry­bas, a Pol­ish Home dir­ect­or, is one of sev­er­al people in lead­er­ship at the ven­ue who also dance.

Her hus­band, Ed­ward Bal­a­jew­ski, is vice pres­id­ent of the Pol­ish Home. He en­joys the ca­marader­ie. He and the dozens of oth­er reg­u­lars wel­come new mem­bers to the “fam­ily.”

The cur­rent crop of dan­cers is 60 and older, but there are no age lim­its.

“It’s for every­one to come in and en­joy them­selves,” said Bal­a­jew­ski, 85. “It’s a friendly at­mo­sphere. I can’t wait to come. We want the young­sters to feel com­fort­able.”

Mem­ber­ship chair­wo­man Debbie Ma­jka de­scribed the scene as “so­cial dan­cing.” Most of the mu­sic is from the 1940s and ’50s, and dances range from the jit­ter­bug to the waltz to ball­room.

The crowd comes from the North­east, Bucks and Mont­gomery counties and South and Cent­ral Jer­sey. It’s a close mix of men and wo­men.

Some come as singles, oth­ers as couples. There’s line dan­cing and mix­ers.

When a night of dan­cing is can­celed be­cause of snow or the floor be­ing re­fin­ished, there’s great dis­ap­point­ment.

“The people are won­der­ful,” Ma­jka said. “They’re warm, friendly and funny. A num­ber of people take les­sons, and this is an op­por­tun­ity for them to prac­tice. And the mu­sic is great. We al­ways have a live band.”

Ma­jka said the dances be­ne­fit the non-profit Pol­ish Home and, by ex­ten­sion, the com­munity.

“The suc­cess of something like this al­lows our or­gan­iz­a­tion to af­ford to do cul­tur­al things that are part of our charter and our mis­sion,” she said.

The dance crowd has its share of char­ac­ters.

Stan­ley Wo­jn­arow­icz hands out Toot­sie Rolls.

“I get two of them, some­times three,” Ry­bas said.

“I get a pep­per­mint after dan­cing with him,” Ma­jka said.

Wo­jn­arow­icz, of Tor­res­dale, is among sev­er­al World War II vet­er­ans who strut their stuff.

“I love to dance. I’m ninety years old, and I dance twice a week. It’s what keeps me young and happy,” he said, re­fer­ring to a weekly dance in Warmin­ster. “Every Wed­nes­day, I’m here. I look for­ward to it. There are a lot of good dan­cers here. I have my own speed.”

Frank Fricke, 84, re­cently had a heart at­tack, but that hasn’t kept him off the dance floor. He’s been dan­cing for 11 years.

“This is what keeps us go­ing and in good health,” he said.

His steady part­ner is Pau­line Biedka, 87.

“I love it here,” she said. “It’s a nice place to come dan­cing.”

Rose Greco is 91 but looks 60. The Delaire Land­ing res­id­ent dances with 93-year-old Andy Potts.

“I love this place. It’s the friend­li­est people I’ve ever met,” she said.

John Santan­gelo is grate­ful that the ladies ask him to dance.

“They’re very kind. I can’t dance like I used to. I’m go­ing to be ninety-four on March 30,” he said. “I’ve been com­ing here for years. I like the crowd. It’s very so­ci­able.”

Bal­a­jew­ski likes to say, “When you rest, you rust.” He prom­ises a good time and an up­lift­ing ex­per­i­ence for all who come.

“You’re old, but you don’t feel old,” he said. ••

The As­so­ci­ated Pol­ish Home, at 9150 Academy Road, of­fers ball­room dan­cing every Wed­nes­day from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m.

The cost is $8 for mem­bers or $10 for non-mem­bers. There is plenty of park­ing in the rear lot or on the street.

The pub­lic is wel­come. Call 215-624-9954.


You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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