For most, dancing is innocent fun
The Straits Times | Oct 20, 1993
By: Yeo Hwee Yng


MP's warning about extra-marital affairs among the elderly

STRANGERS when they met, two elderly avid ballroom dancers looked so good waltzing together that tongues started wagging.

In another case, a grey-haired Romeo tried to get fresh with his younger dance partner, a woman in her 30s, with the result that she left the group.

Both incidents show that more is brewing in senior citizens' clubs than meets the eye. They were enough to encourage Mr Peh Chin Hua, an MP for Jalan Besar GRC, to caution people about extra-marital affairs among senior citizens in folk-dancing and exercise groups in a speech on Sunday.

However, speaking at a folk-dancing night organised by the People's Association and the Health Ministry, he said that the elderly who misbehaved were in the minority.

The Straits Times spoke to five people who organise such activities and they agreed that the instances were isolated, though all knew of cases of September love in their groups.

Madam Y.K. Tan, 55, who is an active leader of club activities dismissed the incidents as just gossip.
She said in Mandarin: "Some couples display such rapport while dancing that bystanders start wondering if they are going together, although both may be married with families."

She said: "Once I saw a couple in their 50s waltzing so beautifully together that they seemed to fly across the dance floor, but I knew them both and there was really no hanky panky."

What happens is that members become so enthusiastic that they organise private dance sessions at lounges or hotel ballrooms.

"They go to practise in a group so that they can show off during parties, but some people may misunderstand," she said.

But Romeos do exist in any age group. A ballroom dancing enthusiast, Madam Mary Yap, 47, recalled how a friend was "accidentally" caressed by a man in his 50s at her dance class. The angry and embarrassed woman quit after that.

Beyond this, Madam Yap, who is also a member of a qigong exercise group, said affairs among the aged were rare, though mild jealousy did raise its head from time to time.

On one occasion, a man had a crush on a married woman and ignored his wife, who also came to the practice sessions.

"His wife became so angry that once, she confronted her husband in front of all of us. It was quite embarrassing," she said.

Otherwise, wives are quite understanding, she says. Women without partners are free to invite Madam Yap's husband to waltz or cha-cha, for example.

"I ask him to go ahead. There's nothing to be jealous about if we remember it's all for healthy fun," she said.

And age notwithstanding, if love should blossom, why not, if the lovers are single or widowed and their families approve.

But no hanky-panky, if both are married, they stress. And certainly such couples should keep such extra-marital affairs away from community activities.

Mr Goh Tee Ann, 63, a volunteer, spoke up for propriety among the aged: "Most senior citizens are still very conservative and know how to behave themselves.

"We must not let the few black sheep taint the image of senior citizens' clubs."