Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2013, 10:16 pm

Q-C's longest running No Name Dance Club aims for growth

Comment on this story

By Leon Lagerstam,

More photos from this shoot
Photo: John Greenwood
Charles 'Chuck' and Mary Ann Porter, of Bettendorf, have been members of the No Name Dance Club for 25 years. The club's been around since the early 1900s, but members still feel people aren't aware of its existence. The club holds five dances each year including one coming up on March 2.
Harriett Lantow, Joyce Bishop, Dr. Joe Bishop, Mary Ann Porter, Wayne Wagner, Kay Wagner and Zobeida Laufenberg belong to the No Name Dance Club.
Picking a name for the Quad-Cities' longest running ballroom-dancing group has been trickier than learning all the dance steps.

So, for more than 100 years, it simply has been called the ''No Name Dance Club."

The Davenport club dates to 1902 or 1908, depending on who you ask, but past and present members couldn't agree on a name, President Ken Lawson said.

Efforts are again under way to decide on a name for the club, he said. Members have narrowed the choices to Dance! Quad Cities and staying with No Name Dance Club.

Mr. Lawson said there's a four-vote difference between the top two, but he's still awaiting ballots from 19 of the club's 54 members.

He said some members say anything would be better than the No Name Dance Club, and others staunchly support keeping the name "because of its historic value." However, all agree it's time to find more members to make the club more cost-effective.

The club holds five dances from September to June. Members and guests wear semiformal attire and gather at an elegant social setting for dinner and a live band.

The next dance will be on March 2 at the Davenport Outing Club. Reservations are due by Feb. 26.

Charles "Chuck" and Mary Ann Porter, of Bettendorf, have belonged to the club for about 25 years. Mrs. Porter said they like dancing to a live band, instead of a record or disc jockey.

"I'd like to see the club grow a little more because, by doing that, we could get a bigger mixture of bands because it's nice to dance to other groups," she said, adding finances have limited the club to about two bands.

Members pay annual dues of $100 for the bands, so more members would mean more money for bands.

"We used to have a lot of members, but as they've gotten older, they've developed problems, such as with their hips or knees, and have dropped out," Mrs. Porter said. "All of a sudden we were down to only 15 to 20 couples."

"We decided we had to have at least 25 couples to make a go of it, and we have 27 now," Mr. Lawson said. "At our last dance, we had 47 people attend, including 13 guests. The first time someone comes, they are our guest. If they come back, then they have to join."

The club pro-rates fees for people who join in mid-season, he said.

"We've been getting some younger people lately, but I really don't know how young they are," Mr. Lawson said. "Some of them have kids in high school, so they might be in their late 30s to early 40s. I think the average age of our members is around 60 to 70."

He credited part of the interest by younger couples to shows such as "Dancing with the Stars," but ''we have people who have been dancing for many years before that show was even on. We have a wide variety of abilities, and we play a wide variety of music.

"We get a big crowd on the dance floor when it comes time for the swing, cha cha, fox trot and waltz, but when the Latin-American dancing starts, the crowd tends to slim down a bit," he said.

One member teaches the salsa and other Latin American dances, Mr. Lawson said.

"Yet, you don't necessarily need to know ballroom dancing to enjoy yourself," Mrs. Porter said. "And no one's going to look at you and say you can't dance or anything like that. It's a good opportunity for people to listen to music and try their own thing if they want."

Mr. Lawson said No Name Dance Club works hard to schedule its dances so they don't conflict with those at other local dance clubs."Many of our members belong to those other clubs, too, so we try to coordinate schedules so we don't have a dance on the same night.

"What we are trying to do is present a semiformal, dressy dance atmosphere, along with a nice dinner and at a nice location to make it a first-class dance experience," he said.

"We were the first dance club in the area, and it was quite prestigious," Mrs. Porter said. "You had to wear a tux and get all dressed up and be invited to attend. They also could blackball you if they didn't like you."

If you go ...

No Name Dance Club's next outing will be Saturday, March 2:
--6:30 p.m. cocktails
--7:15 p.m. dinner
--8 to 10:30 p.m. dancing, featuring the Russ Reyman Quartet.
--Reservations and checks made payable to "No Name Dance Club" may be sent by Feb. 26, in care of Ken Lawson, 4208 E. 59th St., Davenport, IA 52807-2901. A PayPal option is available when emailing Clicking "personal" also will avoid paying transaction fees.
--For information or to get copies of dance bulletins, email Mr. Lawson, call him at (563) 359-1688, or visit the page.
--Menu choices are a flat iron steak with a brandy-mushroom demi with oven-roasted red-skin potatoes, or a salmon-mango crusted with wild rice pilaf, each for $34, or a sauteed breast of chicken with a cranberry ginger glaze and wild rice pilaf for $31. Each entree comes with a small salad, rolls, sherbet, coffee and tea. Service charges and taxes are included in the price.
--Future dance: April 27 at the Rock Island Arsenal Club.