Once every six weeks, the Amsterdam Elks Lodge comes alive with the sounds of music, dancing, and socializing.
The lodge has been hosting music socials since May 2018 inside its giant hall on Fourth Avenue, on the city’s east end. Live bands play, while people watch or get on the dance floor to groove to the music.
Lodge member Michelle Egelston has organized the music socials since they began last year, and she has seen significant growth in attendance at each event.
“May 4th was the first one we had [at the Elks Lodge], and we had about 100 people,” said Egelston. “Since then, each event we’ve had more and more people. That’s basically through word of mouth. We get a large variety of people that come into the city from other areas like Ballston Spa, Clifton Park and Schoharie.”
“Things like this have been done sporadically at the Elks Lodge for years,” said Chuck Torres, the Exulted Ruler of the Amsterdam lodge. “I remember going to events like this growing up.”
The bands and the styles of music have focused on bringing families to the lodge. One night, it could be country music and line dancing. Another night can offer big band sounds and ballroom dancing.
“By having these music socials at the Elks, it’s an opportunity for us to provide a safe environment for people to enjoy a night out,” said Torres.
“Basically, we’re open to suggestions as to what the community wants,” said Egelston. “The first music social, I booked the Joe’s Boys band, which plays a large variety of music. And then we had Betsy and the Bygones, which played 50s and 60s type of music. We had the Rogues for the Veterans Appreciation Dance back in November, and they played a lot of oldies [and] they played things like polkas.”
Egelston’s first music social took place at the Century Club at the beginning of 2018, which she described as an instant success. When she decided to make music socials a regular event, she chose the Elks Lodge for its larger capacity and its aesthetics.
“One of the things the Amsterdam Elks Lodge has is a huge wooden dance floor,” said Egelston. “It fits 800 people, and back in the day, it used to host huge weddings. My idea to get dances going is we needed a large space with a wooden dance floor.”
“It’s kind of like two gymnasiums,” added Torres. “There’s plenty of space to dance.”
With each successive music social, the dance floor has filled up more and more, according to Egelston and Torres. And the next event promises to be the biggest one yet, as Amsterdam’s Alex Torres and His Latin Orchestra perform Friday, February 8, as part of Salsa Night at the lodge. It will be special on two levels for Chuck Torres, who is Alex Torres’ nephew and a former member of his uncle’s band.
“I thought it was really awesome to get him into the lodge,” said Chuck Torres, who will be relinquishing his role as Exulted Ruler of the Amsterdam Elks this year when the club holds its next election.
Tickets for the music social series at the Amsterdam Elks Lodge are $10 per person, and the money goes to support other community activities supported by the club. Food and beverages are also available for purchase. More information about Salsa Night and other lodge activities can be found on the Amsterdam Elks’ Facebook page.