Tekst: Venetia Rainey


‘The Dance Palace’ gaat internationaal! Artistiek leider en PlatenDraaier Suna werd geïnterviewd door het Britse Monocle Magazine voor hun november-editie ‘Say Cheese!’, met portretten van Nederlanders die het net even anders doen. Het artikel lees je hier (Engels).


‘Music has always been part of Suna Duijf’s life. She started as a DJ, play­ing soul and funk everywhere from nightclubs to football games. “But I was always interested in what music was doing to people rather than in finding new music to share,” she says.


So when she was asked to play at a woman’s 75th birthday party in 2004, she said yes. She soon learned two things: older people love to dance and music is a powerful way of getting them to open up. When she played the birthday girl some records to find out her taste, “she immediately got emotional”, says Duijf, who is now 47. “So many memories were pulled up that she wanted to talk about. It felt like I had discovered gold.”


It was the start of The Dance Palace, which has since evolved into a year-round programme of parties, partly funded by the government. They bring 50 to 100 elderly people together to cha-cha, waltz and foxtrot along to some golden oldies. In recent years she has added two smaller-scale programmes in Amsterdam and Rotterdam: De Muzieksalon, where as many as 20 people from one neigh­bourhood get together, and Een Praatje en een Plaatje, which involves volunteers visiting people one on one. Both revolve around music. All in all she has worked with about 10,000 older people so far this year. “What we create is an alternative family for people,” she says. “You can feel the urge for it from the old people; they really need something like this.”


As populations age and in-family caring arrangements decline, loneli­ness has become a major issue across the western world. Duijf is convinced that her programmes could play a key part in preventing loneliness but is wary of expanding too fast. “You need to put a lot of effort and time into relationships and community-building,” she says.


Monocle comment: Loneliness is, by its nature, a hidden problem. As such it’s easy to ignore how big the issue is, especially when it comes to the older generation. This sort of easy-to-replicate social approach has the power to forge new connections and build a renewed sense of community.’


Wil je ook, op wat voor manier ook, bijdragen aan meer geluk onder ouderen door dans en muziek? Kijk op hetdanspaleis.com/help-mee.