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If you dance a mean polka, or...

If you dance a mean polka, or even if you don’t, why be a couch potato on New Year’s Eve?

Instead of watching tape-delayed television footage of the countdown in Times Square, you could be dancing the night away in Pasadena.

The Pasadena Folk Dance Co-Op is sponsoring its annual folk dancing party Tuesday from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 1757 N. Lake Avenue. Cost is $8 per person and includes a buffet dinner from 9 to 9:30 p.m. No alcohol will be served.

There’ll be a lineup of 60 dances--from Swedish family waltzes to a Romanian rustemul, or line dance, to a Chinese folk dance. For beginners, five dances will be taught.

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Half the folk dances will not require partners, said Marshall Cates, a board member and past president of the co-op that is organizing the event.

The 50-year-old Pasadena co-op belongs to the Folk Dance Federation of California-South, a nonprofit umbrella group which includes about 50 clubs that teach folk dances from around the world.

Each summer, the federation invites several dancers from different countries to its camp, where local folk dance teachers learn new steps from them. They then teach other instructors the new dances, and so on.

Folk dancing is becoming less of a tradition passed from parents to their children, said Cates, 48, a math professor at Cal State Los Angeles who is one of four teachers at the Pasadena co-op. Cates met his wife at the Pasadena co-op, but their children aren’t interested in the hobby.

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Cates’ students, on the other hand, range from Caltech undergraduates in their 20s to 85-year-old novices. Classes are offered through the co-op every Friday evening, at $1.50 per session.

For more information about the New Year’s Eve dance, call Cates at (818) 794-9493 or Sylvia Stachura at (818) 300-8138.


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