For the last five years, students from the adult school have regaled audiences at the fair as the Huntington Beach Adult Line Dancers. The student dancers — all at least 55 years old — are from senior centers around Orange County
Jim Camarena, a physical education teacher for the Huntington Beach Union High School District, has taught the adult line dancers for 12 years. More than anything, he noted, the class is a haven for women; only around a dozen of its 450 students are male.
"A lot of people, their husbands don't dance or they don't have partners," Camarena said.
In addition to its annual performance at the fair, the troupe appears at convalescent homes and senior expos around the area. Next year, Camarena said, the group planned to star in a senior festival at Disneyland.
Rita Groscost of Huntington Beach has been in the dance class for 11 years. She takes the class three times a week and said it helps her feel good about herself, she said.
"I just love it," Groscost said. "I do it for the exercise. I started after I had back surgery…. It's good for me physically and mentally."
First-timer Natalie Young of Fountain Valley did not step on stage with as much confidence as the seasoned Groscost did, but the nerves went away as she got into her routines.
"I'm feeling great now," she said after the show. "I'm glad I did it. I had a lot of fun."
The dancers' energy levels and big smiles were contagious, and audience members clapped along as the ladies twirled, stepped and stomped along the stage.
"We love them," said Seal Beach resident Liz Ganaden as the ladies shimmied to "Blame it on the Bossa Nova." "It's good motivation. I'm in my early 50s, so it's great to see these ladies."
"It was the highlight of the fair," said Riverside resident Joanne Bosher after the dance group finished its routine. "I love watching the ladies have so much fun, with all their energy, and watching them dance."
Bosher just happened to walk by the Heritage Stage and sat down when she saw the ladies, all wearing red T-shirts and black pants, moving to the music.
The dancers will perform again today at 1 and 3 p.m. at the fair's Plaza Arts Stage.