Hokey Pokey

San Mateo Neighbors Began Dancing the Hokey Pokey a Year Ago. They Haven't Stopped

The Forge Road neighbors have been gathering every day at 4 p.m. since the start of the pandemic, regardless of the conditions, to dance

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One year into this pandemic and there are so many new routines we can't wait to get rid of, like keeping our masks on and our distance from each other.

Which is why it was strange to see a group at the San Mateo Highlands Recreation Center this weekend celebrating their pandemic routine.

They have been dancing the hokey pokey together every day at 4 p.m. for 365 straight days.

"None of us, when we started, thought it would be 365," said Lynne Cameron.

Cameron came up with the idea last March. It was a time when many neighborhoods were coming up with ways like nightly howls or driveway cocktails to break the monotony of sheltering at home. Cameron thought, for her neighbors on Forge Road in San Mateo, a daily dance would do the trick.

Cameron wanted a way for people to stay active while staying close to home.

"Everybody knows the hokey pokey," Cameron said. "Not everyone remembers the Macarena, but everyone knows the hokey pokey."

What started as a lighthearted diversion, though, has become so much for this group.

"We've been sticking together and helping each other through it," Dianne Weitzel said.

In the first few weeks of the pandemic, Weitzel said, she would spend most of the day in bed, just watching television and scrolling through her phone. The hokey pokey gave her a reason to get moving each day.

"I get dressed every day. I make my bed every day," Weitzel said. "Then I do the hokey pokey with these wonderful friends."

March 26 marked the 365th consecutive day of at least some members of the group gathering to dance.

They danced through every season, every holiday and every type of weather. That included a group of four that danced under orange skies in September, the result of raging wildfires around the Bay Area.

It was a bit of human interaction in the day, no matter what the day.

"I had my (Christmas) dinner home alone," Weitzel said. "But we had the hokey pokey group before that."

Eva Voisin has lived next door to many members of the group for decades but has never felt closer to her neighbors.

"It a way of connecting," Voisin said. "One more layer of connection. Maybe a deeper layer than we've had before."

The group promised each other early on that they would keep their dancing streak going until the pandemic is over, but they still haven't defined what means. So, even after a whole year, the dancing continues.

It seems while everyone is in a rush to be done with everything bad from the past year, they still want to hold onto what's good.

And isn't that what it's all about?

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