A group of four women danced, waving their hands from side to side, shuffling their feet, and shaking their hips to Meghan Trainor’s hit song “All About That Bass.”
And it’s not what you’d expect. They’re called the G-Squad, an amateur five-member group of hip-hop dancing Garner women between the ages of 60 and 75. One member was absent at Wednesday’s practice but the women still got down. They are well-known at the Senior Center and around town and are preparing for the county’s Senior Games next week at the Garner Performing Arts Center.
They’ve won gold medals at the Games five times and one silver medal since they started competing.
The group was started about seven years ago by Nancy Hulbert, the group’s dance coach, and the senior adult fitness program specialist at the Garner Senior Center. There were originally 10 members.
Hulbert said she was attending a county-wide dance contest, the Senior Games, that was being held in Garner, and wondered why Garner didn’t have its own dance team. So she organized a group of women at the Senior Center and encouraged them to come out for the team. But instead of dancing to the traditional show tunes that most groups dance to, she wanted to have her dancers grooving to the sounds of hip-hop music.
“I mean it was good but it was sedate,” Hulbert said of the other performers’ genre selection. “I just wanted something more current than what they were already doing.
“A lot of people have jumped on the bandwagon now though, so we have to turn it up a notch.”
Members come and go
The groups members usually rotate out from year to year, or someone will join the group.
This year, the group’s members are Elaine Spivey, Olivia Bond, Alberta Barrett, Elizabeth Batten and Deanna Macbeth. Each year practice starts in September in preparation for the Senior Games.
Bond, 74, is the group’s only original member and has come back every year since.
“We do it for fun, and we keep coming back because it’s part of our exercise routine,” Bond said.
Batten, 60, said the same. She said she loves the attention the group gets from the crowds that watch them.
“I love the G Squad. I love the dancing, I love the people, and she’s the best,” Batten said pointing at Hulbert. Batten has been on the G Squad for five years.
Some of the newer group members had seen the group dance in the past. To them it seemed like a potentially interesting thing to do.
“They were unique,” Macbeth, 74, recalls. “They were a lot of fun to watch. And Nancy encouraged me. She said I think you would fit in well with the group, and I tried out and here I am.”
Macbeth, who has been with the group for three years, said the group has been good for her mentally as well.
“It’s good for your brain,” Macbeth said. “As you get older it’s important to learn new things.”
Throughout the practice the group shares laughs and jokes about each other. They talked about Macbeth’s red nose, teasing her and calling her Rudolph. The group calls Barrett “Ms. Busy,” because “she’s always got something to do,” they say.
“That’s because I enjoy life,” Barrett said, 63, who is in her second year as a member. “And that’s what I do. Get involved in a lot of things.”
The group participates in the Christmas parade and tree lighting ceremony each year and performs throughout the year. But Wednesday’s Senior Games is where they put it all on the line.
Last year they didn’t win. But this year they hope it will be different. They hope to shake, dance and shimmy their way to a gold.