It's hard to say if Madeline Lord is happy because she tap dances, or if she tap dances because she's happy. The 89-year-old Burnaby resident wears a bright smile as she talks about her life, her family and friends, and the passion she renewed in midlife for her favourite pastime.
Lord got her first pair of shiny black tap shoes when she was seven years old.
Her mother registered her for a class, and she loved the shuffle-ball-step sequences right from her first lesson.
Pursuing her passion through her teen and early adult years, Lord performed in many shows but stopped after she got married in 1950 and started a family.
Life got busy, and the years flew by - with a move from Winnipeg to Edmonton, then back, and then to Burnaby, where in 1980, her husband died suddenly at the age of 50.
"Well, he died, and I was still young enough to dance," she said. "So I was 56 years old when I started dancing again."
One night, she went with some friends to the New Westminster Legion where a group called The 55-And-Over Review was putting on a musical variety show.
During an intermission, Lord went to the MC to say she had very much enjoyed the performance and wanted to be part of it.
"I'm not shy, see," she said. "I said, 'I wonder if you could use another one in your show?' So he looks at me, he says, 'Who?' and I says, 'Me.'"
The MC told her there would be an audition that Wednesday which she was welcome to sign up for, and she agreed.
"On Friday, I was in the show and I spent five years in that show," she said. "We danced in Chilliwack, we danced with the soldiers, we danced everywhere; in Port Moody and Vancouver, and you know what? I love what I do. I really enjoy it.
"It makes you feel good, and it makes you feel like you've done something good, and it makes the people happy."
Indeed, Lord's dancing brings a smile to the faces of her neighbours in her building.
For most holidays and special occasions she breaks out her tap shoes and gives them a show.
Lord supplies the music, too - mostly classics from the '50s.
"They're all favourites to me, all of them," she said. "I love music."
Keeping active is a priority for Lord, who two years ago had both her left knee and hip replaced.
After a round of physiotherapy, she took up long walks with a friend in her building and got a gym pass with one of her daughters, to keep up her strength and balance.
For a while after surgery, she used a walker, but as soon as she could, she folded it up in the closet and hasn't used it since.
"There's a lot of people, I feel sorry for them," she said. "They don't move very much, you know, and they depend very much on their walker."
With her tap shoes back on again, Lord is dancing more than ever.
Last year, she performed at her own birthday party for a crowd of 120.
Much to her delight, a special guest showed up.
"You know who danced with me?" she asked with a grin. "Dal Richards. Dal Richards came to my birthday with his wife Muriel."
Lord said Richards, Vancouver's legendary big band musician, also known as the King of Swing, has in turn invited her to his 95th birthday party this month.
She and other guests will see him perform at the Orpheum and then enjoy a dinner at the Vancouver Hotel, where Richards first performed with his band in the 1940s.
Next year, Lord will be 90.
As with every other milestone birthday, she is planning to entertain her guests.
"I'm going to dance," she said. "I'm not going to give up. Not until I drop."
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