South Fayette jitterbug club keeps it moving
Karen Somerville sits at a table, greeting members to the Pittsburgh Area Jitterbug Club's dance at the Sygan SNPJ Lodge No. 6 in South Fayette.
As music begins playing in the hall, she notices an arriving couple.
“This couple coming in, they are definitely in their 80s. They are so nice. And they are so cute to watch.”
This might be another of the club's twice-monthly dances, but to Somerville, 60, who serves as vice president, and the tight-knit group, it might as well be a family reunion.
The nonprofit club was founded in 2003 and is dedicated to the preservation of fast dance styles. It has more than 200 members.
Special dances are held on holidays such as Halloween and Christmas and members' birthdays are celebrated every other month.
Davey Douylliez, 59, of Cecil, serves as club secretary. He's been with the club — which he calls a “good, social organization for people who love to dance” — for five years but has been dancing his entire life.
“It was a spinoff of another club, Shag, and this club does a variety of dances. Everything from jitterbug to Cha Cha to Hustle, polka, West Coast, East Coast. We're a variety of dances,” he said.
“You have people coming from the North Hills, you have people coming from Monroeville and Ohio. We have people coming from all over the place because dance venues aren't as prevalent as they used to be.”
Douylliez said he danced at clubs from Monroeville to downtown Pittsburgh during the 1970s and 1980s.
“When I met my present wife, she wanted to learn how to dance, so I taught her how to dance and now we've been dancing for about five years.”
He was invited to a club dance five years ago and hasn't looked back.
“It's fantastic. You'll see the groups, you'll see the camaraderie. People switching off, dancing with other partners.”
Somerville, of the North Hills, has been with the club since the beginning.
“I was at another dance club and ran into the founder (President Sandy Wiedt) and she told me about the club ... and they sort of brought me in and made me part of their family. So, I've always been with them,” she said.
“The majority of us, we just love to dance. That's why we're here.”
She said the large, wooden dance floor at the SNPJ is definitely a crowd-pleaser.
“It's one of the best dance floors in the area. For a wooden dance floor, it's the best. There's a lot of room and everybody likes the dance floor.”
There was little doubt Douylliez would be on the dance floor this night until the deejay spun his final tune at 11:30 p.m.
“I love dance, some people think I'm good, I don't know. One thing I do well is the Hustle. I'm probably one of the guys who will be out there 95 percent of the dances.”
And Somerville will be paying close attention.
“That's what I like, to watch people and pick up different steps. You can walk up to anybody and say ‘Can you show me how to do that?' And they'll show you how to do that.”
Dave Mayernik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.
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