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Residents rush to Lunas for dinner, dancing event
New social gathering geared toward 50 and older population
Line dancers take over the floor for a song before the ballroom dancers return during the 50 Plus Dancing Diners event July 9 at Lunas Restaurant in downtown Gainesville. - photo by NAT GURLEY

50 Plus Dancing Diners will meet every second Tuesday of the month at Lunas Restaurant in downtown Gainesville. Dinner will be from 5:30-6:30 p.m. followed by dancing from 7-10 p.m.

Eating a good meal at an affordable price, sipping good wine and dancing to the tunes of yesteryear with the one you love. This combination transported the men and women attending the 50 Plus Dancing Diners event back in time.

“We all like to cruise to the old music. It keeps us young, like we are teenagers,” Gainesville resident Ray DeBrincat said. “That was the ‘Happy Days’ of our lives.”

His Harbour Point subdivision neighbors chimed in, agreeing the new event is like being in high school or college again.

“(This) is like college with money,” Sandy Brassen said.

“And we have wine instead of beer,” Rich Kohler added.

The group of 12 was part of the 120 people attending the first 50 Plus Dancing Diners event July 9 at Lunas Restaurant in downtown Gainesville. The newest addition to city’s social scene was the brainchild of Susan Beem and her husband, who started a similar activity with friends while living in Florida.

“We felt Gainesvillians would migrate to something like this,” Beem said. “And we thought if we have enough seniors interested in it and someone agreed to do it, it would be self-sustaining.”

Interest from the senior community was there. Now all they needed was a sponsor to help. Enter the foray was Juan Luna and Scott Moore. Luna offered his restaurant for one night each month to the organizers with a flat-rate dinner at Lunas Restaurant and the dance floor space inside Hunt Tower. Then Moore’s company — Scott Moore’s Wealth Management — agreed to finance the deejay or band and any extras. With the two businessmen pitching in, the need for a cover charge was eliminated, Beem said.

Moore and Luna said they were happy to assist and look at it as a community service.

“I think it’s a desire to give back,” Moore said while his family was being served dinner at Lunas on the night of the event. “We’re in our fifth year here in Gainesville. And the community has been really good to us and we want to give back.”

Luna noted the dance also fills a void in Gainesville.

“It was something needed for the seniors,” he said as he watched the dance floor fill up July 9. “I love this. And I expect it to get better.”

Beem is aiming to make the event better. She explained organizers will accept constructive criticism from participants and adjust to suit their needs.

“We were a little disappointed with our DJ,” she said a couple of days after the event, noting next month’s gathering will have a band. “Just the Two of Us are going to play.”

Despite any glitches or flaws with the first activity, many attendees seemed happy with the event, especially the dancing.

“All of our friends like to dance,” Gainesville resident Renee Bernstein said. “We do something else Tuesday night and canceled it just to be here.”

Mollie Drake and her husband came from Chestnut Mountain to dance.

“It’s wonderful,” she said. “We don’t really have good ballrooms here. And this space provides that.”

Dot and Paul Hutchinson, one of the first couples on the dance floor, pointed out dancing was allowed not only on the dance floor but just about anywhere in the venue.

The DeBrincats were taking advantage of that rule. The Gainesville couple danced near the refreshment table since the dance floor was crowded by 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Rick and Lynne Plummer were standing nearby waiting to join the dance. Both said they were glad Gainesville started the earlier dance gathering, which has dinner from 5:30-6:30 p.m. and dancing from 7-10 p.m.

“There really not a lot of places you can go, unless you want to go to Atlanta and I don’t,” said Rick, who then grabbed his wife’s hand and led her to the dance floor.

The 50 Plus Dancing Diners will meet again Aug. 13 at Lunas Restaurant. Reservations are encouraged.