Meet Cincinnati’s Dancing Grandmas


First things first: Those canes aren’t for walking—they’re a dance prop. Founded by Harris Rosedale in 1982, the Dancing Grandmas on Tap have shuffle stepped and cramp rolled their way across stages around town ever since. One more time, ready, go.

Illustration by Ben Scruton

I joined in 1992. I quit dancing a couple years ago. I just come along and heckle now. We always have a lot of fun. It’s a great social thing. Dancing is one of the best exercises you can do when you get older, and anybody can do it. I still do the warm-up. One time we had five, I think, that were over 80. We called ourselves the antiques—the unique antiques. They can’t get rid of me! —Donna, 93

Whoever calls, we’ll go there! [laughs] But it’s usually retirement homes. We have a few big shows a year—the Duke Energy Senior Ball, which is in the daytime; the swing dance convention in August out at Great Wolf Lodge; and Germania has a Christkindlmarkt, and they always have us perform at that. —Debbie, 73

I put my first pair of tap shoes on when I turned 60, and that was 14 years ago. —Jane, 74

Some of us danced when we were younger, and some just learned to dance when they got in the group. I danced as a kid and through high school, then didn’t dance for years and years. And then I bought a pair of tap shoes. —Joyce, 78

The other day we were at this show, this woman was 103, barely going. And when I walked out, she walked up to me and said, I loved it. That was a gift. Their energy, they just come alive. —Pat, 80

Harris Rosedale was famous. He was a dance teacher. He had a radio show, and then he went into TV. It was when Cincinnati had a lot of local, live shows. —Debbie

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