The Day – Dance your way to love in the dark winter

Cupid is working a lot harder these days because of the pandemic.

Imagine, before COVID vaccines were developed, people were afraid to be around others or shake hands – let alone kiss. While some people still feel that way, some venture out to socialize and hang out.

Singles can now meet other singles through speed dating through online sites or in person. A quick Google search will bring you both.

Some people continue to use dating sites locally, but communicate longer through the website, email, or Zoom. Then, before they meet, they say they confirm the dates they had their COVID vaccinations and their boosters.

If you are dealing with an “anti-vaxxer”, ask them to take a COVID test before meeting you and only meet in person if they test negative.

Another option: Join a singles Meetup group near you and experience a mix of indoor and outdoor activities. Search “Singles Meetup Groups, Norwich, CT” online and discover lots of fun options, some broken down by age range.

For example, “Sociable singles over 55 having fun! the members “explore restaurants, attend concerts, museums, movies, and enjoy theater groups in the area,” according to its site. They also host book club talks, attend wine tastings, visit breweries, and “enjoy outdoor activities such as walking, hiking, kayaking, and biking.”

Other Meetup groups include the “Eastern Connecticut Christian Singles (18-50)”, “East CT Singles Hike 20 & 30”, and the “Newly Divorced Meetup Group”.

Do you just want to meet people with similar interests and don’t care if everyone is single? Choose from “Jam Sessions Live” (for musicians, dancers and good timekeepers) “Fall & Winter Stargazing”, “Tired of Dating-Game Nights for New Friends”, “Scenic Casual Bikers” (cyclists), “The Bohemian Club of Southeastern Connecticut,” “Bisexual + Discussion Group” (meets in Middletown: Walk-in Meetup), “Chronic Pain Support Group – Connecticut,” as well as travel and cruise clubs.

Cast your net beyond Norwich and discover even more Meetup clubs – or create your own group.

“I am a social being. I like to be with people. I love to dance, but COVID can be very, very isolating,” and difficult, said Pat, 63, a once-divorced, once-widowed speech therapist. “That meant I had to explore different kinds of ways to connect with people that mattered to me, look at different opportunities where it felt safer,” she said in a phone interview.

Also important: finding activities that made her feel good about herself and who she is as a person.

“Sometimes you’re not looking for a date. You are looking for a community of like-minded people to hang out with; people you feel you connect with, who share a value system, share things that bring joy.

The counter dance is one of his favorite choices.

“It’s a very diverse group of people and a wonderfully safe environment, especially for a woman.”

Pat said people have had to reprioritize who they are and how they socialize.

“If we can’t do an activity, is there something else that is similar?” She said she started square dancing with another group of friends “who are also counter-dancers, because there weren’t as many counter-dances, and the dancers like to dance.”

She carpooled to square dances in Sturbridge, Massachusetts and to the Blue Slope Country Museum at 138 Blue Hill Road in Franklin. (Weekly dances, usually with pre-recorded music, take place in an open-air barn during the warmer months from around 7-9pm. For more information, visit the Blue Slope Country Facebook page Museum or call (860) 377-8312. .)

“Connecticut Contra & Barn Dances Meetup” features a list of upcoming dances throughout Connecticut and includes Worcester, Mass. Have fun, meet other people and exercise with people of all ages – up to 80 years old.

Its site specifies that the dances are taught and encouraged, “Come alone, with friends, with family or as a couple; there are many partners! The music includes Irish, New England and Quebec jigs and reels and is performed live! » Note that children are also welcome. Dancers are requested to wear non-marking shoes to facilitate the execution of the dance steps. Also bring a bottle of water as you will sweat.

The Mystic Contra Dance group meets monthly (normally the fourth Saturday) at the Groton Senior Center at 102 Newtown Road. Next dance: February 26. Admission is $10. “LGBT people come too,” said Don Heinold, a caller and one of the organizers.

To raise additional funds to pay bands and callers, bakers make and sell slices for $3 each during The Mystic Contra Dance break. Socializing begins at 7:30 p.m. At 7:45 p.m., a 15-minute initiation session takes place. The dance takes place from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m.

To attend the dances, “You must be vaccinated or take a COVID-free test within 48 hours and we all dance with masks on,” Heinold said in a phone interview. The only time they take their masks off is when they’re eating pie.

Also, “you need to log in and give your email address so we have contact information in case there’s a problem”, which so far he said he didn’t know of any at the Mystic Contra Dance.

“It’s a great place to make a connection, rather than a pickup,” Heinold said. “A lot of singles said they just like hanging out with other people and making friends. Sometimes those friendships lead to relationships,” said Don, who said the group was “very good at keeping the ‘non-threatening aura of Contra dances’.

Contra dances, which involve changing partners after each dance, are sometimes called folk dances. However, technically, these dances that have been going since Revolutionary times in America are called New England Contra dances, Heinold said. “At the time, they were just called dances, not barn or counter dances.”

If you’re willing to travel, there are also Meetup groups, periodic Parks and Recreation classes, and nightclubs for people who love country dancing.

Even though Pat didn’t join any Meetup groups, she said she thought they “were a great opportunity because it was a bigger group” and a safer environment, “much like the Contra dance community”.

“If you don’t click with someone, you don’t have to associate with them. If you click and it’s like-minded people, that’s a great way because you’re doing something you love.

Pat said her late husband Ken (whom she met at a Contra dance and started dating six months later) always said, “If you do what you love, love you. will find.”

She said she also had fun with virtual workout and fitness activities. Her friends participated in a free online meditation group through Brown’s Mindfulness Center in Providence, Rhode Island.

Years ago, Pat said she tried online dating and it was “not wonderful in most cases. Well, there were people who lied about who they were. I think you have to be very careful. You have to be very resourceful. I discovered that a gentleman had domestic orders against him.

She knew another man claiming to be a widow who contacted her through the dating site. “His wife was alive and well.”

Pat said she would meet men she met online in public places, but wondered how long she would have to and when it was safe to tell them more about her – like where she lived.

She added: “People look good on paper, but not so much in real life. I met some nice people”, but I didn’t meet anyone.

“I met people who were close to my heart while doing the things I love the most: dancing, being in motion, doing concerts, going to film festivals.”

Other advice Pat had to offer was, “It’s about really knowing who you are, feeling good about yourself. Also, when you meet someone, “If it works, it works and if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t, but don’t prejudge people by their looks or those very superficial things either.” I mean, look beyond.

“You’re not here to try to please everyone, but you have to know who you are and what you bring to the table because not everyone is meant to be with everyone.”

In addition to just “being there”, Pat believes it is important to know “what is a priority for you?” What are the things that really matter? And then go out and be yourself.

Long-time Norwich resident Jan Tormay now lives in Westerly.

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