Saturday, April 15, 2006

Sunday dancesmake Frederickbelle of the ball

FREDERICK, Md. — As long as single people have been looking for love, there have been singles events to help them meet each other.

Frederick Singles has filled that role since March 2, 1986, when it started hosting dances at an area Holiday Inn.

About 300 to 400 people attend on a regular Sunday, and 500 to 600 on holiday weekends, said Ronnie Osterman, one of the founding members. Dances are held every first, third and sometimes fifth Sunday of the month.

Only half the attendees are from Frederick County, Miss Osterman said. The others come from Baltimore, the District, Northern Virginia and as far away as Pennsylvania.

“It’s the most populous local dance in the area,” said Larry Stein of Germantown, who has been coming to the dances for 15 years.

Mr. Stein said Montgomery County has few places besides bars to meet people and that he has gone on dates with women from the dances.

Dawn Montalvo of Northern Virginia likes the mix in ages.

“If you go to Tysons [Corner], it’s like 60 and over,” she said. “Here, there are people in their late 30s and up.”

Miss Montalvo also said Frederick has a different scene from the metropolitan area.

“People appear to be nicer, more friendly and down-to-earth,” she said. “I’ve met a lot of nice men and women to hang out with.”

Some people attend just to socialize on a Sunday night.

“I’m not looking for a boyfriend,” said Kimberlee Walls of Urbana, Md. “I come for the social atmosphere.”

Miss Walls never goes to bars but likes to dance — so much so that she came alone to a dance on a recent Sunday night after a friend canceled plans.

“It’s the safest nonsmoking atmosphere,” Miss Walls said. “It’s the best place for clean, good fun.”

Frederick Singles started when about 10 singles pitched in $50 each to rent the gala room at the Holiday Inn on U.S. Route 40. Several of the founding members had been involved in Parents Without Partners, a national organization with a chapter in Frederick.

But Frederick Singles became so popular that the organization, which held dinners and other singles activities, soon folded.

“We didn’t mean to close them down,” Miss Osterman said. “It just happened. I guess a lot of people figured, why go to a covered-dish supper on a Saturday night and meet three men when I can go to a dance and meet 200.”

Westminster, Md., had been having singles dances on the second and fourth Sundays of the month, so Frederick Singles hosts its on the other weekends.

“Sunday is a very lonely day for single people,” she said. “It’s a family day.”

The group quickly outgrew the Holiday Inn on U.S. Route 40 and has been at the Holiday Inn by the Francis Scott Key Mall for the past 16 years.

The 20th anniversary dance was March 19.

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