Joan Wilder: Journalist, Writer, Editor

Summer’s last dance

Whether it was the music, the sea breeze, or the camaraderie, the seniors at the Bernie King Pavilion yesterday kicked their heels at stereotyping and rocked out like kids for the last dance of the season. Several hundred people of all ages packed the Nantasket Beach pavilion, but it was the senior majority whose unbridled joy invited others to let their hair down and dance their hearts out.

“He kills me! With that wonderful music, he wants to sit down?” said Janet Arthur, referring to her husband, John, as they came off the dance floor. Prior to sitting down, the Arthur’s had been dancing since the concert began 45 minutes earlier. Avid dancers, the Arthur’s said they’d heard about Hull’s Concerts-by-the-Sea from friends.

“This place is great. It’s wonderful — being outdoors, the ocean. It feels so free, the wind blowing through your hair,” said Janet. “What do you think of the captain? He goes to all the dances.”

The captain, in this case, was 90-something Squantum resident Jim O’Connor, a tall, thin man in a yachting cap. When partnered with Hull native Cathleen Donovan, 35, O’Connor put the younger dancer through some serious moves, showcasing her beautifully.

Hundreds of sitting participants had a contented smile on their faces as they tapped their feet and watched the parade of dancers: There were traditional couples, women dancing with women, people dancing solo, toddlers tottering, little kids jumping around, and synchronized line dancing.

“I’m a disabled veteran of World War II,” Braintree resident Phyllis Nuss volunteered happily. “I can’t boogie anymore, but I love to watch and I love the music. Music is my middle name.”

A favorite season after season, yesterday’s band, Four Guys in Tuxes has been playing the July 4 and Labor Day weekends of this summer series since it began ten years ago. The band, which plays all over the region from Boston, to Newport, Rhode Island, did a range of old standards and classic rock tunes including Blue Suede Shoes, Under the Boardwalk, In the Mood, Moon River, New York, New York and some Beatles.

Agnes Goode of Jamaica Plain said she’s been attending the dances twice a season for the past several years. A veteran of dance concerts, she had a playful sense of humor.

“I like this band,” said Goode, just as Under the Boardwalk got her up and on to the dance floor. “I saw Artie Shaw in Boston. I thought he was dead, but he’s 91!”

Concerts-by-the-Sea is organized by former Hull resident and cable station host, Barbara Kiriakos, who announced that she will come back for her tenth season with the series again next year. Kiriakos has also been a strong advocate in the campaign to have the failing Bernie King Pavilion rebuilt. She introduced Senator Robert Hedlund, R-Weymouth, to the crowd yesterday and thanked him for his continuing efforts in that endeavor.

“Get the new building!” said life-long Hull resident Stella DeVito, after pointing out the best dancers in the room. “We’ve got plenty of people coming from all over. They need this, the elderly people, they need this. Look at the people who come here — crippled, in wheel chairs — they need a new pavilion. This is the best thing in Hull.”

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