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The eyes have it for these dancers

My husband and I can’t dance. We grew up in a cultural vacuum, some time between disco and grunge.

I vaguely remember doing the pogo to the Go-Gos and slam dancing to Devo. I recall seventh-grade dances at East Avenue Middle School in Livermore. The band played a very bad “Smoke on the Water” and we moved our adolescent bodies around the gym as if we were having mild seizures. The gator, dirty dog or the swim – all dance moves that could be learned and imitated by a monkey in half a beat.

Last Friday night at the Lake of the Pines Clubhouse, my husband, Bill, and I became acquainted with some dancers from another, more refined generation. These were couples actually looking one another in the eyes as they danced. They knew the box step, swing and jitterbug. And some of them, I am certain, could waltz, tango or do the Charleston. If they were ever to flip past MTV as they moved from the History Channel to the six o’clock news, they would be horrified by today’s tasteless bumping and grinding.



To the relief of these more cultured consumers of dinner and dance music, the LOP Clubhouse features a talented duo every other Friday evening. Don Hamilton, singer and pianist, and Louie Digiorno, drummer, provide dining and lounge patrons with classic jazz, pop and show tunes. The two have been playing together since 1971 and bring a romantic and nostalgic ambiance to the clubhouse.

I was in awe on Friday night as two seniors, Sterling Thomas, 87, and Bernadine Quandt, 85, were the last couple on the dance floor. The two had been dancing to Don Hamilton since 1978. We watched as they box-stepped gingerly around the floor, song after song. Sterling, better known as “Red,” said he wished the Don Hamilton Duo played the clubhouse every Friday night instead of every other Friday.




Red and Bernadine were not the only people we met at the clubhouse Friday evening. Don Hamilton and Louie Digiorno have many adoring fans who came by the piano to say hello to their favorite entertainers. LOP residents John Redgewick, wearing a kilt and full beard, and his wife were the first to step up and share their enthusiasm for Don’s talents.

We really enjoyed listening to the music and watching these couples dance. We were envious as Don magically sang “The Girl from Ipanema” and others, skilled and graceful, moved around the dance floor. It was our first trip to see Don Hamilton, but we will be back. Who knows, we may even learn to dance.

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Laura Lavelle is a resident of Lake of the Pines, and her column is for Lake of the Pines area residents to share thoughts and information. Contact her at laural@theunion.com or leave a phone message with the readership editor at 477-4238.


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