Dancin’ machine

Roeena Cohen

Photo courtesy of tackle Box bar & grill

Roeena Cohen loves to dance, and at a sprightly 84, she doesn’t let her age slow her down a bit. Cohen’s favorite place to regularly cut loose throughout the week is the Tackle Box Bar & Grill, and during the summer months she likes to hit the patio at LaSalles during the Thursday Night Market. The widowed mother of four has been dancing in various forms her whole life. She’s been involved with the local dance scene since arriving in Butte County 26 years ago, and was one of the founders of the local North Valley Belly Dance Competition.

How did you develop your love of dance?

I was in ballet school five hours a day in high school. I was in the same dance class as Robert Joffrey [founder of the Joffrey Ballet], when he would dance. He was my partner for three years, but he went on to New York and got famous, and I got married and started popping out babies.

What’s your favorite style?

Ballet really was my favorite, but of course I can’t do that anymore at 84. Ballet gets you ready to be able to do everything. My teacher taught us Spanish dancing with castanets. You get hired to do that; you don’t get hired to do ballet. I used to do flamenco dancing with castanets. You can wear big circular skirts with ruffles on them and swish them around.

Have you done other types of dance?

When I was pushing 40, I was alone with my four children, and my costume shop wasn’t doing very well, so I needed to make some money. I started dancing in the nightclubs where the go-go girls were with their bikinis, you know. I was doing more than most of them because of my ballet training, but I’d pick up moves from different dancers, and put it all together.

How did you get into the bar scene?

Well, that’s what’s so funny: I don’t drink! I never did drink or smoke anything. But I needed to get out—when I was widowed. It’s so bad to be home alone, you know. And by evening, I’d think, “I need to get out there. Where there’s men.” And the men are in the bars, you know. I’ve been looking for an older man, and I’ve been having fun with the muscular young men who want to dance with me, but that’s not what I’m after. I’m still trying to find one nice old man who will behave himself, which isn’t easy! Well, you know why they came up with the term “dirty old man.” They need to learn what the word “no” means.