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Summer Nights

Nottingham singles dance offers friendship, romance, chance to groove

  • Linda Gerade, of Epsom, wraps her arms around Ron Hrycuna, her boyfriend, while they dance during the Singles Dance event at Daniels Hall on Friday night, July 5, 2013. The couple met at the event earlier in the year.  <br/><br/>Summer Nights: Singles Dance at Daniels Hall on July 5, 2013.<br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Linda Gerade, of Epsom, wraps her arms around Ron Hrycuna, her boyfriend, while they dance during the Singles Dance event at Daniels Hall on Friday night, July 5, 2013. The couple met at the event earlier in the year.

    Summer Nights: Singles Dance at Daniels Hall on July 5, 2013.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Daniels Hall is a venue in a quiet corner of Nottingham that David McDermott built with his own hands. People can take a break from the mood lighting and music outside where there are seats and candles. <br/><br/><br/>Summer Nights: Singles Dance at Daniels Hall on July 5, 2013.<br/><br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Daniels Hall is a venue in a quiet corner of Nottingham that David McDermott built with his own hands. People can take a break from the mood lighting and music outside where there are seats and candles.


    Summer Nights: Singles Dance at Daniels Hall on July 5, 2013.


    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • The sign at the entrance to the Singles Dance event at Daniels Hall shows photos of friends and couples that have met at the event throughout the years. <br/><br/>Summer Nights: Singles Dance at Daniels Hall on July 5, 2013.<br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    The sign at the entrance to the Singles Dance event at Daniels Hall shows photos of friends and couples that have met at the event throughout the years.

    Summer Nights: Singles Dance at Daniels Hall on July 5, 2013.
    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Paul Michaud, of New Durham, dances during the Singles Dance event at Daniels Hall in Nottingham on July, 5, 2013. <br/><br/>Summer Nights: Singles Dance at Daniels Hall on July 5, 2013.<br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Paul Michaud, of New Durham, dances during the Singles Dance event at Daniels Hall in Nottingham on July, 5, 2013.

    Summer Nights: Singles Dance at Daniels Hall on July 5, 2013.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • In addition to the music, there is also a television playing music videos set up on the dance floor at the Singles Dance event at Daniels Hall in Nottingham. "If people don't feel like dancing, or need a break, they can just sit and watch the television too," said JoAnn DiDona, one of the DJs and organizers. <br/><br/>Summer Nights: Singles Dance at Daniels Hall on July 5, 2013.<br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    In addition to the music, there is also a television playing music videos set up on the dance floor at the Singles Dance event at Daniels Hall in Nottingham. "If people don't feel like dancing, or need a break, they can just sit and watch the television too," said JoAnn DiDona, one of the DJs and organizers.

    Summer Nights: Singles Dance at Daniels Hall on July 5, 2013.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • JoAnn DiDona and Raelene Lasher, of Barrington, dance while DJing at the Singles Dance event at Daniels Hall in Nottingham on July 5, 2013.  <br/><br/>Summer Nights: Singles Dance at Daniels Hall on July 5, 2013.<br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    JoAnn DiDona and Raelene Lasher, of Barrington, dance while DJing at the Singles Dance event at Daniels Hall in Nottingham on July 5, 2013.

    Summer Nights: Singles Dance at Daniels Hall on July 5, 2013.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • A photograph of David McDermott, who started the singles dance at Daniels Hall, and his wife JoAnn DiDona, who is one of the DJs and organizers of the event, sits near the entrance to Daniels Hall on July 5, 2013. The couple met at the event nine years ago.<br/><br/>Summer Nights: Singles Dance at Daniels Hall on July 5, 2013.<br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    A photograph of David McDermott, who started the singles dance at Daniels Hall, and his wife JoAnn DiDona, who is one of the DJs and organizers of the event, sits near the entrance to Daniels Hall on July 5, 2013. The couple met at the event nine years ago.

    Summer Nights: Singles Dance at Daniels Hall on July 5, 2013.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Brenda Owen, of Newburyport, Mass., collects the cover at the door for the Singles Dance event at Daniels Hall on July 5, 2013. The event happens every Friday, only canceling on the occasion of a snowstorm. Summer Nights: Singles Dance at Daniels Hall on July 5, 2013.<br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Brenda Owen, of Newburyport, Mass., collects the cover at the door for the Singles Dance event at Daniels Hall on July 5, 2013. The event happens every Friday, only canceling on the occasion of a snowstorm. Summer Nights: Singles Dance at Daniels Hall on July 5, 2013.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • A light up heart hangs over a couch at Daniels Hall during the Singles Dance event in Nottingham on July 5, 2013. <br/><br/>Summer Nights: Singles Dance at Daniels Hall on July 5, 2013.<br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    A light up heart hangs over a couch at Daniels Hall during the Singles Dance event in Nottingham on July 5, 2013.

    Summer Nights: Singles Dance at Daniels Hall on July 5, 2013.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Joanne Cote dances with her fiancŽ Harry Britton during the Singles Dance event at Daniels Hall in Nottingham on July 5, 2013. The couple met at the event on New Year's Eve several years ago.<br/><br/>Summer Nights: Singles Dance at Daniels Hall on July 5, 2013.<br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Joanne Cote dances with her fiancŽ Harry Britton during the Singles Dance event at Daniels Hall in Nottingham on July 5, 2013. The couple met at the event on New Year's Eve several years ago.

    Summer Nights: Singles Dance at Daniels Hall on July 5, 2013.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Linda Gerade, of Epsom, wraps her arms around Ron Hrycuna, her boyfriend, while they dance during the Singles Dance event at Daniels Hall on Friday night, July 5, 2013. The couple met at the event earlier in the year.  <br/><br/>Summer Nights: Singles Dance at Daniels Hall on July 5, 2013.<br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Daniels Hall is a venue in a quiet corner of Nottingham that David McDermott built with his own hands. People can take a break from the mood lighting and music outside where there are seats and candles. <br/><br/><br/>Summer Nights: Singles Dance at Daniels Hall on July 5, 2013.<br/><br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • The sign at the entrance to the Singles Dance event at Daniels Hall shows photos of friends and couples that have met at the event throughout the years. <br/><br/>Summer Nights: Singles Dance at Daniels Hall on July 5, 2013.<br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Paul Michaud, of New Durham, dances during the Singles Dance event at Daniels Hall in Nottingham on July, 5, 2013. <br/><br/>Summer Nights: Singles Dance at Daniels Hall on July 5, 2013.<br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • In addition to the music, there is also a television playing music videos set up on the dance floor at the Singles Dance event at Daniels Hall in Nottingham. "If people don't feel like dancing, or need a break, they can just sit and watch the television too," said JoAnn DiDona, one of the DJs and organizers. <br/><br/>Summer Nights: Singles Dance at Daniels Hall on July 5, 2013.<br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • JoAnn DiDona and Raelene Lasher, of Barrington, dance while DJing at the Singles Dance event at Daniels Hall in Nottingham on July 5, 2013.  <br/><br/>Summer Nights: Singles Dance at Daniels Hall on July 5, 2013.<br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • A photograph of David McDermott, who started the singles dance at Daniels Hall, and his wife JoAnn DiDona, who is one of the DJs and organizers of the event, sits near the entrance to Daniels Hall on July 5, 2013. The couple met at the event nine years ago.<br/><br/>Summer Nights: Singles Dance at Daniels Hall on July 5, 2013.<br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Brenda Owen, of Newburyport, Mass., collects the cover at the door for the Singles Dance event at Daniels Hall on July 5, 2013. The event happens every Friday, only canceling on the occasion of a snowstorm. Summer Nights: Singles Dance at Daniels Hall on July 5, 2013.<br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • A light up heart hangs over a couch at Daniels Hall during the Singles Dance event in Nottingham on July 5, 2013. <br/><br/>Summer Nights: Singles Dance at Daniels Hall on July 5, 2013.<br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Joanne Cote dances with her fiancŽ Harry Britton during the Singles Dance event at Daniels Hall in Nottingham on July 5, 2013. The couple met at the event on New Year's Eve several years ago.<br/><br/>Summer Nights: Singles Dance at Daniels Hall on July 5, 2013.<br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

The glow of colored tube lights bounces off old records hanging from the ceiling in Daniels Hall, lighting up the room in red. Everything from Josh Groban to Lady Gaga to old country and western tunes blare through the speakers.

Ron Hrycuna and Linda Gerade, who met there in March, get on the dance floor and hold each other close as they sway to a ballad. Sherry and Ron Alie, married for 45 years, practice their swing moves they learned in dance lessons to a more upbeat tune. Rick Porter, who just loves to dance, gets on the floor with his friend and dancing partner, Sally Pelletier, jumping, twisting and jimmying around the dance floor with bursts of energy.

This is Friday night at the weekly singles dance at Daniels Hall, located off Old Turnpike Road in Nottingham. From 7:30 to midnight all through the year, people ages 30 and up from all over New Hampshire come to dance, chat with friends and maybe meet someone special. Owners David McDermott and JoAnn DiDona, who met there nine years ago, strive to make everyone feel comfortable, introducing newcomers to others. It costs $12 to get in, which includes sandwiches

and other snacks, and patrons can bring their own food and alcohol.

McDermott first started running a singles dance in Massachusetts decades ago, then moved to New Hampshire and began at Daniels Hall in 1993. He used to hold weddings, banquets and other functions at the hall as well. When he thought about retiring several years ago, there was an uproar, he said, so he decided to keep only the singles dance going.

His dances offer a simple way to meet people: Attraction is the first step, he says, and it’s an easy and comfortable place for people to ask someone else to dance. Then they can grab a seat at one of the tables around the venue, learn more about each other and “see if it sticks.”

That’s how it happened for him and DiDona. Nine years ago, when she was living in Vermont, she came to one of the dances with a friend. She started talking to McDermott, and he asked her to stay after so they could chat some more. They got married a few years later and now live together in nearby Northwood, still running the dances every Friday night.

Theirs is just one of the 159 marriages that have resulted from meeting at Daniels Hall. And that number doesn’t include the people who are engaged, still dating or get married without telling them about it.

“God knows what the real count is,” he said.

Joanne Cote, 65, and Harry Britton, 75, aren’t part of that 159 – yet. Cote first came to Daniels Hall on New Year’s Eve several years ago at the suggestion of a friend. She enjoyed the music and atmosphere and kept coming back. One night several months later, she told her girlfriends she was going to ask a man across the room to dance. But on her way, something compelled her to walk past that man and up to Britton instead.

They danced all night, and Britton plopped a kiss on her while they danced in front of the DJ station during the last song of the night. They didn’t even get each other’s numbers, but both came back the next week. They moved in together a few years later, and this past November, around Cote’s birthday, Britton got down on one knee in their kitchen and popped the question.

Now, the couple comes back to the place where they met every single week.

“One of us has to be sick not to come,” Cote said. “We even have to cut vacation a day short.”

They look happy and energized as they dance together, smiling and looking into each other’s eyes. Cote’s first husband died decades ago, and Britton has brought her another chance at happiness.

“He just lights up my life again,” she said.

The friendly and unintimidating atmosphere makes it easier to pluck up that courage to walk across the room and ask someone else to dance. At Daniels Hall, it doesn’t matter what your age is, how you dress or who you know, many patrons said. Instead, it’s a place where everyone feels comfortable. Patrons can bring their own drinks and snacks, and several people had coolers with Bud Light, Twisted Tea or other drinks. But everyone keeps the drinking casual, and keeps their drinks on the table to avoid spilling on the sparkling dance floor. Several patrons said they like Daniels Hall more than a bar because they don’t feel pressured to drink if they don’t want to.

When newcomers make their way to Daniels Hall, hostess Valerie Lake is there to make them feel comfortable. Her mother met her husband there years ago, and Lake has been working the dances for just more than a year. She tries to gather the new people at one table, introduce them to one another and drag them out on the dance floor.

“One of the most awkward things is going out and sitting by yourself,” said Lake, who moves around the room chatting with people and grooving on the dance floor with new and old friends.

There’s music for everybody, too. Friday night’s selection ranged from the popular radio tune “I Love It” by Icona Pop, which got Donald DeForge jumping around and pumping his fists, to Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock N’ Roll,” to The Trammps’ “Disco Inferno.”

DeForge, of Laconia, met Priscilla Loudenslager at the dance in 2007 and proposed to her right on the dance floor several years later.

“I was shocked, surprised, happy,” she said.

But you don’t have to be looking for love to attend the dances. Jan Ouimette of Exeter lost her husband about three years ago. She’s not ready to be back on the dating scene, but she comes to socialize and dance.

“I wait all week to come up here,” she said.

For everyone who spends their Friday nights at Daniels Hall, it’s really all about the same thing: Having a blast and meeting new people.

“Everybody’s so friendly,” Ouimette said. “After you come here a few times, you feel like this is home.”

(Kathleen Ronayne can be reached at 369-3309 or
kronayne@cmonitor.com or on Twitter at @kronayne.)

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