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You Can Still Have Dance Parties

A dozen perks of going gray in New York.

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Illustration by Peter Arkle  

See free shows
“My husband and I usher at the Signature Theater, so we can see shows for free. There’s a lot of competition: Getting an assignment can be hard.” —Gail Goldman, 73, Forest Hill Gardens

Play third base
“I’m a third-baseman for the Long Island Senior Softball League. I drive six other guys out to the fields twice a week—we play a doubleheader each day.” —Wilbert Fryson, 73, Bedford-Stuyvesant

Eat wherever you want
“I can go out in the middle of the day and eat wherever I feel like. I met my friend to see a picture, and then we had lunch at Red Lobster. We had a delightful time together.” —Naomi Bullard, 90, Upper West Side

Join a movie club
“Ten of us go to a movie and dinner once a month. We just saw Anita and then talked about sexual harassment. One of the guys, he’ll only come see the shoot-’em-ups.” —Barbara Lerner, 77, financial district

Study male ballet
“I’ve taken classes on Beethoven, Mozart, and the history of male ballet at Juilliard. We can go to Philharmonic rehearsals for only $20. I’ve made great friends; we all meet in the cafeteria.” —Sara Beer, 79, Upper West Side

Enjoy preferred seating
“I go to Joe’s Shanghai for lunch and order the soup dumplings, scallion pancakes, and crispy beef. They call me ‘Grandma’ in English, and always give me a special seat in a corner.” —Miriam Gerber, 95, Upper East Side

Spend mornings at the library
“I love going in the late morning to the New York Society Library. It’s very quiet and feels like your private English drawing room. I’ll read a magazine, go through the stacks. It’s also got a rare-book room. Melville researched Moby-Dick there, and you can hold a book that he made notes in.” —Jeffrey Hantover, 69, Upper East Side

Get Fairway discounts
“Every place I go, I ask, ‘Do you have a senior discount?’ Sometimes they don’t, but then I’m the first one to get one. I’m not ashamed. Where I live, the people at Fairway send a bus to take us to 125th Street, and you can get a 10 percent discount.” —Evelyn Jones Rich, 80, Upper West Side

Work part-time
“I retired last year but got a senior-citizen job through the West Harlem Development Corporation: Mama Foundation for the Arts hired me to do outreach for $10 an hour, four hours a day, three days a week. I’m not getting rich off of this, but it just helps put a little something in my pocket.” —Cyril Innis Jr., 68, Harlem

Finally meet your neighbors
“There’s always someone I can talk to by the mailbox. The other day, I had a conversation with a young woman in the building about the trumpet. I watch peoples’ jaws drop when I tell them I’m 88. They’re thinking, Here is this man at 88, and he’s in Ralph Lauren and has boots from Fratelli Rossetti.—Bob Miller, 88, Upper East Side

Dance during the day
“I do a lot of dancing at the community center I belong to; we have day parties, not night parties. You don’t need to wait for a man to come over and ask. We don’t do the waltz. We just dance the way we feel—and everyone gets home before dark.” —Gloria Cooke, 67, East New York

Hook up
“I met my girlfriend, Amy, seven years ago through a JCC event. Our first date lasted four hours. We both have shitty hearing, and I thought, Oh, wow—I finally found somebody that says ‘What?’ a lot too.—Richard Fine, 71, Upper West Side

Additional reporting by Molly Langmuir


Volunteer (Finally)
By Robin Hilmantel

The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center: Greet audience members, work the merchandise booth, and help out with other tasks at the classical performance of your choosing; as a bonus perk, gain free access to Mozart-quartet shows at which you’re assisting (chambermusicsociety.org).

League of Women Voters: Research issues like hydrofracking and affordable housing—meeting with city officials, visiting low-income developments—to inform voters (both male and female volunteers welcome; lwvnyc.org).

Brooklyn Botanic Garden: Lead tours, pointing out seasonal blooms and special exhibits, or just help mulch, water, and weed (bbg.org).

NYPL Centers for Reading and Writing: Tutor immigrants and others with low reading levels in English (nypl.org).

Foster Grandparent Program: Chat, review homework, and bond with surrogate grandchildren—ranging from the learning disabled to HIV/AIDS patients—at hospitals and day-care centers (more info at 311 or nyc.gov).


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