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  Wednesday January 28th, 2015    

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Dancing through the decades (10/02/2013)
By Chris Rogers

     Photo submitted by Kathy Foerster

. Don and Marlene Fiegen, of La Cresent, Minn., longtime members of the Winona Area Ballroom Dance Club, pose at a monthly dance event held by the club.

It’s been a little over 20 years since Bob and Iris Meinhard first thought of creating a ballroom dancing club. The Meinhards approached Winona State University Dance Instructor Sue Ann Mullen, and together with Orval and Michelle Lund, they helped found The Winona Area Ballroom Dance Club, and as Mullen puts it, “The rest is history.”

The twentieth anniversary celebration will also commemorate the life of Bob Meinhard, who passed away this past August.

Jenny Heth, current president of the club, was impressed with Bob’s dedication and love for the club.

“He was at the dance in a wheelchair, right up until August,” Heth said. “His legacy was bringing more beauty into the world.”

“It’s so sad that he passed away before our big celebration; he would have enjoyed it so much,” said club member and secretary Kathy Foerster. “He still came and supported the club; his heart was there even though he couldn’t get up.”

The goal of the club was to create a place where people could enjoy live music, dance at any skill level, and socialize with others. Twenty years later, the club is still going strong.

From 7:30 to 11 p.m., the first Friday of every month, the Winona Area Ballroom Dance Club members dance to live music at the Hilltop Ballroom in Fountain City, Wis.

“We wanted to encompass the area around us as well, and we have been very successful at that,” Mullen said. “We get couples from La Crosse, La Crescent, even all the way from Eau Claire.”

Mullen, who also teaches dance classes at the YMCA, has had several students from her classes later join the ballroom dancing club.

Heth and her husband were one such couple that initially took classes from Mullen before joining the club. Heth explained that they decided to join because it would require them to make the commitment to practice dancing at least once a month.

Members of the club noted that participants in the dances get to enjoy live music, exercise the brain and body, and socialize with people who have similar interests. The club has members of all ages, including couples in their twenties, Mullen noted. Heth added that it really has become a multi-generational activity.

“Television shows like Dancing with the Stars have made ballroom dancing popular again,” Mullen added.

“It’s just wonderful, the socialization you get, dancing once a month with your friends,” Heth explained.

The club is open to all levels of dancers. New members often learn a lot just from watching others, according to club members.

“No one cares if you can dance like Fred Astaire,” Heth said. “Although, people will watch you if you can.”

Members of the club encourage others to become involved with ballroom dancing, noting how much the dances have meant to them over the years.

“They’re memory-makers for us, every dance,” Heth said.

Friday, October 4, guest couples may participate in the dance for $30, or $15 for a single. An annual membership for the 2013-2014 year is $225 a couple. For more information regarding the upcoming dance or the club call Kathy Foerster at 507-452-1922 or visit www.dancewinona.org.  


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