At the El Dorado Senior Center, Wednesdays are for dancing. And this week, seniors graced the dance floor in suits, gowns, jeans and t-shirts for an afternoon under the stars.

Gold and black streamers hung from door frames, mylar balloons tethered to tables drifted in the breeze coming from the air conditioner, and a big sign read “Welcome to Senior Prom!” taking attendees back to when they were high school teens.

They grazed on cookies, brownies, coffee and punch (of course!) before heading to the dance floor, where swing and tango tunes from the Every Wednesday Big Band, the big band that plays every Wednesday from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m., floated through the building.

Dozens of seniors from the area attended the senior prom at El Dorado Park West Senior Center Wednesday, May 16. Photo by Cheantay Jensen.

“You look very nice,” one attendee told Mike Jonas, 84, who sported a spiffy white suit jacket and black slacks.

“You should see my date,” he replied.

Thea Grand, 83, strutted down a hallway to meet her dance partner at the entrance. She wore a flowy white top, white pants and a long pearl necklace to match.

Grand was a senior at St. Mary’s High School in New Jersey, she recalled, when she was asked to prom by class president Bobby Camback.

“Well, my date was the president of the senior class so it was a big deal,” Grand said cheekily. “And then we went to a nightclub in New York and made out in the backseat of his car like crazy.”

As for Jonas, however, Grand assured that, “he’s the best dancer in the world.”

Mike Jonas, 84, and Thea Grand, 83, dance at the El Dorado Park West Senior Center during the senior prom Wednesday, May 16. Photo by Cheantay Jensen.

The event was put on by the city’s Parks, Recreation and Marine Department to commemorate Older Americans Month. They have programming scheduled all throughout the month of May, ranging from art workshop’s to gardening classes and even a beach day.

For Ed Schuster, 80, these are the good ol’ days. Speaking of his own senior prom, Schuster said, “those are the bygone days that are best forgotten.”

He’s been swing dancing for over 20 years and said he practices at the El Dorado Senior Center every Monday and Wednesday.

“It’s easy,” he said. “Just step touch, step touch and rock back.”

While it might be easy for Schuster, others may beg to differ.

“Everything changes when you get older but dancing, you keep moving and it keeps you alive,” said David Lytle, 85, another El Dorado regular.

In true prom fashion, Pearl Liu and her husband Louis, showed up in a matching ensemble. She wore a tropical printed, turquoise blue dress and he wore the same print short-sleeve button up — they picked up the threads on a trip to Hawaii and knew it’d be perfect for the occasion.

Louis Liu and Pearl Liu dance during the senior prom at the El Dorado Park West Senior Center on Wednesday, May 16. Photo by Cheantay Jensen.

The couple had their first dance as freshmen at National Taiwan University when they began dating and before they had any formal dance training. Now, after being married for 46 years, they’ve kept up that hobby and travel from La Habra to Long Beach every week to spend some quality time together and listen to music.

What’s their secret to a long and happy marriage? “Developing various interests that keep our marriage journey new everyday,” said Louis. “That’s why we like to continue to dance and continue to travel around the country and abroad.”

Before the afternoon came to a close, it was time to crown the prom king and queen — with the title going to the pair who was the best dressed.

Stephen Hata, 74, and Carolyn Ross, 85, took home the crowns.

Hata said he picked something from his closet that he thought would look nice and ended up with a white suit jacket, red vest and a matching red bowtie.

Ross picked up her floor-length, black, lace gown at a vintage store the day before.

After winning the title of senior prom king and queen, Stephen Hata and Carolyn Ross take a spin on the dance floor at El Dorado Park West Senior Center Wednesday, May 16. Photo by Cheantay Jensen.

The reigning king and queen took over the dance floor for a moment, twirling and smiling before once again being joined by the rest of the attendees.

For his own senior prom in June 1967, Hata asked his girlfriend at the time, and though he does not remember much about the dance in particular, he can vividly recall the afterparty, watching The Supremes perform their greatest hits at the Shoreham Hotel in Washington D.C.

“It was awesome,” he remembers.

Looking back at her own prom, where she was asked by Jim Shelton, one of her friends at the time, Ross said, “This is more fun.”

Long Beach’s Parks, Recreation and Marine Department is celebrating Older Americans Month with activities throughout May and a full calendar of events can be found here.