The Whiting Dinner and Dance Club, a long running social club in the region, is getting ready to pass another mile stone with its 85th anniversary, which will be celebrated with a formal dinner and dance from 6 to 11:30 p.m. Saturday, May 3, in the Laird Room of the Dreyfus University Center, 1015 Reserve St., Stevens Point.
The dance will be 1920s and ’30s-themed, with music, dance and dress to fit. The club was started in 1928, during the peak of the jazz era, and this dinner and dance will commemorate the musical styles, dress and traditions of the period.
A pre-dinner social hour will begin at 6 p.m. with cocktails and a dance lesson focusing on The Charleston, the dance at the roots of the Swing movement. Instruction will be led by Toni and James Sage, local ballroom dance instructors and members of the Whiting Club.
Dinner will be catered by the university and the menu includes bacon-wrapped filet mignon, red potatoes and chocolate mousse.
The 18-piece University Jazz band will provide live music for the event. Toni Sage said the club always has live music for every dance but it usually consists of a three or four piece string band. The group felt the 85th anniversary should be more special though so they decided to go with a full band, Sage said.
Dinner will be served at 7 p.m. and dancing will begin at 8p.m. Dances will include the waltz, foxtrot, tango, cha cha, rumba, samba, polka and swing.
“Some people are intimidated, they think everyone will be a professional or really know how to dance but really people are varied in their ability,” Sage said. “Some know lots of different dances and some just know the Foxtrot and Polka.”
Tickets for the dinner and dance can be purchased until Monday, April 28, and are $30 per person. For those who wish to attend the dance only, tickets are $15 per person. To purchase tickets call Sage at 715-295-9667.
The club meets five times a year, September through May, for dancing and dinner and the occasions are always formal. Just last year the club chose to add an hour dance lesson before each dinner to help couples learn the steps to dances they might not be familiar with. Membership is $90 per couple for one year.
“You get to get fancied up. There are not too many places in Stevens Point you can go and wear a tuxedo, and that is fun,” Sage said. “That is something special. There is also a social connection with other people in the community who sometimes you would never get to meet.”
The club meets at venues such as Memories Banquet Hall, Stevens Point Country Club, Bernard’s Country Inn, Dreyfus University Center and SentryWorld Sports Center.
The club is named after the Whiting Hotel where the Club originally held its dances. The club was then known as the Whiting Dance Club, according to Floy Anderson, who joined the club with her husband in 1946. She said they would sometimes meet for dinner before and or sometimes get drinks, but it was always great fun.
Space was more limited at the time and there was waiting list for couples to join. Members were also restricted to husband and wife couples only, a restriction that was lifted the 1970s when membership was dwindling. The Club’s numbers were so low it almost disbanded but managed to pull through after the change in rules.
The club currently has 65 couples and is always accepting new couples. Non-members wishing to join the club should contact Sage at 715-295-9667 or firstname.lastname@example.org.