NEWSMAKER: Making Pinky proudLadies’ monthly sock hop good for the spirit
By: June Kallestad, Living North Magazine
They just gotta dance. That’s it. The whole story. Two middle-aged women who wanted to add a bit of frivolity to their lives decided to start a dance night.
“We’re not having enough fun,” Kim Luedtke said to her friend Marcie Stoyke, co-owner of Amazing Grace Bakery. “So we decided it would be fun if we could dance after work. We’d have fun for ourselves and if other women wanted to join us, great!”
So at Amazing Grace, in the basement of the Dewitt-Seitz building in Canal Park, every second Wednesday of the month, a half dozen or more women boogie down to 70s tunes and have a blast.
“No talking, no gawking, just dancing,” says Luedtke. “It’s an hour away from whatever is troubling you. And it’s only an hour because women our age are just so busy.”
It could be just that simple — dance and laugh. But there’s a bit more. When they started what became “The Middle Aged Women’s Sock Hop” a friend had just died after a long battle with cancer. Her name was Judy Cooper, a singer whose stage name was Pinky Jean the Dancing Queen.
“She was so brave and so funny, even when she was sick,” said Luedtke. “Marcie was really missing her, so we thought of a way to make the sock hop beneficial, too.”
They started asking dancers for small donations … just a dollar or two. They donate the money to Seeds of Hope Youth Ranch, in Duluth, in honor of Pinky. Seeds of Hope is a non-profit organization that brings together abused horses and youth in need of healing. They help each other recover from whatever damaged their past. The women learned of the organization through one of its volunteers who works at Amazing Grace.
The dance nights don’t raise a lot of money, but the laughter generated evens the balance sheet for the original sock hop goal — just plain fun.
“It’s just lots of laughter for an hour. Dancing is really about your spirit, being who you are and being authentic,” said Luedtke, a spirituality-based life coach by trade.
One recent sock hop was especially festive. It was prom night, but not high school style.
“This is the first prom I’ve been to that I rode my bike and didn’t shave my armpits for,” laughed Tina Hietala, in her black dress, florescent shawl, bike shorts and sneakers. She’s been coming to the sock hops since February.
Margilyn Valle was an elegant presence with a flowing purple gown and 1920s-esque black beaded cap.
“It’s always fun to dress up,” she said, body wiggling to the beat. “And these gals are terrific. They are really impressive.”
Then Donna Summer belted out “Last Dance,” as hips gyrated and fingers snapped.
When it ended, with smiles firmly fixed on their faces, the ladies said goodbye. It was time to go back to the serious side of life.
Pinky Jean must be smiling, too.
Want to join in?
For July and August), the sock hop will be held in the Rotunda in the Carnegie Building, 101 W. 2nd Street in Duluth. Bring a couple of CDs with your favorite dance tunes the second Wednesday of the month. Contact Kim Luedtke for more information by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Marcie Stoyke at Marcie@marciestoyke.com. For more information about the Seeds of Hope Youth Ranch, visit its Web site at: www.seedsofhopeyouthranch.org.