The OK Corral in Kelowna, British Columbia, will not be the same without the hero of its dance floor, Arnie Davis. Fortunately Chelsea McEvoy met the aging dancer before he took off his dancing boots for the last time. She knew he was a story worth telling.
For twenty years the talented dancer twirled women around the floor night after night. He told McEvoy:
If you want to attract girls, you learn how to dance first. If you can dance, the older you get the more girlfriends you got because they don’t worry about you. Here I am 78 year old, going on 79 pretty quick, and I still can go dancing. If I teach you to dance, see, you can go dancing when you’re 75, 80.
Davis’s dancing years started early, when his sisters needed a partner so they could practice their moves. Even after the old gramophone broke down, they kept dancing, though one of them would have to hand spin the records to keep the music going.
Arnie Davis put away his dancing shoes during his 35-year marriage. But when divorce left him free to dance again, he became a regular at the OK Corral, in the town he had come to call home. Young women and old, he danced with them all. When his health became precarious and he had to take off his dancing shoes, McEvoy was there to record his last dance in the pub that had become his community.
McEvoy’s questions brought out Arnie’s memories and the homespun wisdom of a man who learned how to give and receive joy in spite of any hard balls life threw his way. When CBC interviewed her about the documentary on November 22, 2013, Arnie was in hospice, his attitude still sunny as he edged closer to dancing away.
So grab your western boots and big hats and head on over to the OK Corral or to your favourite dance hall. Raise a glass to Arnie and dance until whatever sorrows or worries followed you there disappear, at least for a few hours. It will be a fitting tribute to a man who danced his way into the hearts of so many people.