The Collegian
Sunday, July 12, 2020

APO prom gives local senior citizens chance to dance

Mike Callahan escorted his wife, Shirley, to their second prom, 53 years after escorting her to her senior prom at Anacostia High School in Washington, D.C.

The 17th-annual Alpha Phi Omega prom, themed "An Evening Under the Sea" and held in the Alice Haynes room Wednesday, drew 40 senior citizens from the Richmond community, said junior Kim Pham, a brother in Alpha Phi Omega. About 25 University of Richmond students went to enjoy the dancing and conversation as well.

Like traditional high school proms, the event featured a photo station and a live band from Richmond's faculty jazz band, Doctors of Jazz. The band, led by Richmond professor of music Gene Anderson, played a variety of 1920s jazz tunes during the evening.

Callahan, 75, and his wife sat with Faust and Teresa Narvaez, a couple from Chesterfield, Va. The Callahans met the Narvaezes at the Sophisticats Dance Club — a ballroom dancing club in Midlothia — 16 years ago, Callahan said. They have been good friends ever since, he said.

Narvaez, 75, said this was the first time that he and his wife attended the Alpha Phi Omega prom, but that they had attended other proms, including one at Thomas Dale High School in Chesterfield. Teresa was pleased by the friendliness and energy of Richmond students.

"Students [at Thomas Dale] were not as friendly as here," she said. "They don't want to dance. ... They're too shy to come over and say something."

When the music started around 7:30 p.m., the Callahans and Narvaezes immediately took to the dance floor. Narvaez and his wife, who came to the United States from Ecuador in the 1960's, belong to three dance clubs, including Sophisticats.

"See, this is the way we stay young," Teresa said while taking a break from dancing the Charleston.

Narvaez agreed. "It's a coordination of your body and your mind," he said. "It keeps you really active."

At the end of the night, Narvaez and his wife were pronounced prom king and queen. Teresa said they were very surprised but had a great time at the event.

"The music is very old for me too," she said. "But when you like to dance you do the best you can."

Pham spent most of the evening working at the photo station.

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"Some couples stood in traditional prom poses," she wrote in an e-mail. "It's funny how some of the seniors couldn't stop bouncing their feet to the beat so I had to retake some of the photos."

Although 109 seniors made reservations at the prom, the bad weather caused many of them to cancel, Pham said. Even so, she was pleased with the turnout, especially from students.

"I think that when students hear about the prom, some think that it will be boring or that it's 'cool' but would never actually go," she said. "It really is a lot of fun and it is something that the seniors do look forward to--it ends up being a pretty special night for all of them."

Contact staff writer Guv Callahan at guv.callahan@richmond.edu

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