Jim and Clary performing the tango.

Jim and Clary performing the tango.

NONAGENARIAN Jim McManus is a wonderful example of how leading an active lifestyle can bring about many benefits.
Jim, who celebrated his 96th birthday on January 5th, has lived an active and well-travelled life.
He is a regular on dance floors across Waterford and the South-East thanks to his love of ballroom and tango dancing – and would certainly give the stars of ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ a run for their money!
Born in Scotland, he served in the British Army for seven years from the ages of 19 to 26.
He then joined the Merchant Navy for six and a half years.
He and his wife lived in various areas of the UK, including Wales where their children were born.
Later on, Jim spent four years working in electronics with the American University in Beirut.
“I had been a radio officer in the Merchant Navy so I had learned quite a lot about radio, radar and electronics in general,” he explained.
His father’s family hailed from Enniskillen so Jim was familiar with Ireland.
In fact, he regularly travelled over on the ferry and enjoyed trips throughout the entire country.
He eventually decided to move to Waterford and arrived here in January 1994.
Living in Slieverue, he still leads an incredibly active lifestyle which sees him participating in ballroom and tango dancing on numerous occasions each week.
Twinkle Toes: Ninety six year old Jim McManus.

Twinkle Toes: Ninety six year old Jim McManus.

Jim’s involvement with both ballroom and tango dancing ensures he has a busy schedule at all times.
He dances for an average of around two and a half hours at a time but proudly proclaims that he can keep going for up to four hours!
“You’ve got to be quite fit to keep at it!” he said.
During the week, he enjoys ballroom dancing at the Rhu Glenn and the Brandon House Hotel and also attends ‘Tango in Waterford’ gatherings at Treacy’s Hotel and the Edmund Rice Heritage Centre.
Jim’s weekends are also jam-packed with activity, as he often participates in different dancing events.
Last Saturday for example, he was on the dancefloor once again for a charity tango event at The Granville Hotel in aid of the Solas Centre.
Although he had been participating in ballroom dancing long before moving to Ireland, he only took up tango after seeing a performance at Garter Lane in 2002.
“I always loved tango music but this show really got me hooked on it,” he said.
Jim joined ‘Tango in Waterford’ which is a non-profit organisation dedicated to promoting Argentine Tango in Waterford and the South-East.
The inclusive nature of tango is something which certainly appears to be part of its enormous appeal.
Members of ‘Tango in Waterford’ are from various backgrounds and all age groups.
“The music and movements of tango appeal to people,” explained Jim.
Last year, ‘Tango in Waterford’ dancers participated in public performances outside the Bishop’s Palace and at the Tramore Promenade Festival which were enjoyed by all.
Jim is currently serving as Communications Officer with ‘Tango in Waterford’ and, as well as enjoying the dancing, he thoroughly enjoys the social aspect associated with being involved with the group.
“The people are very friendly and outgoing and we’re all good friends. Everyone’s always happy and we all have a laugh,” he said.
However, he would love to see more men get involved with ‘Tango in Waterford’.
“We always have more women than men – that’s a problem with both tango and ballroom dancing,” he commented.
Jim with dance partner Clary Mastenbroek from Kilmeaden.

Jim with dance partner Clary Mastenbroek from Kilmeaden.

“When I was dancing in England, women were scarce and there were always too many men. I think the Irish men are more interested in sport!”
However, Jim believes the popularity of television programmes such as ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ has boosted interest in all forms of dancing.
He has recently been approached by a local active retirement association with a view to teaching ballroom dancing – something which he is interested in pursuing.
He is encouraging anyone with an interest in either ballroom dancing or tango to contact their nearest group.
Jim attributes his longevity to leading such an active lifestyle.
“It’s a big help if you keep active. I’ve always been active. Couch potatoes are going to have a short life,” he said.
For more information on Tango in Waterford contact 087-2029895, 089-4145425, email tangoinwaterford@gmail.com, visit Tango Waterford Facebook page, or www.tangowaterford.p4o.net