2018-03-08 / Living

Great Lakes Swing Club member Joe Trujilo, 90, celebrates a lifetime of dance

By Sam Tunningley
810-452-2661 • stunningley@mihomepaper.com


Joe Trujillo spins his partner on the floor of the Flushing Rollhaven during one of several performances on the ninetieth birthday, celebrated last Thursday at the Flushing Rollhaven. The Great Lakes Swing Club brought his family in for a surprise visit 
Photo by Sam Tunningley Joe Trujillo spins his partner on the floor of the Flushing Rollhaven during one of several performances on the ninetieth birthday, celebrated last Thursday at the Flushing Rollhaven. The Great Lakes Swing Club brought his family in for a surprise visit Photo by Sam Tunningley FLUSHING - Joe Trujillo celebrated his 90th birthday last week and is still cutting a rug.

Trujillo is a member of the Great Lakes Swing Club, a diverse group staging weekly dances at the Flushing Rollhaven with a purpose to “inform, encourage, promote and enjoy swing dance of all forms.”

He is one of the most respected dancers of the group, and not only for his moves - his warm, genial nature tends to be infectious with everyone he encounters.

An immigrant from Mexico who attempted crossing the border twice in the 1970s over a two-hour span before arriving in America, Trujillo officially became a citizen in 1982 and made his way to Michigan to find work in a manufacturing plant.

His five daughters describe him as a lifelong active person who jumped rope during the long hours at his factory job, was an amateur boxer, played Class-A baseball and maintained a passion for dance.

Trujilo found his group in 1992. The Great Lakes Swing Club has been a strong outlet for friendship, therapy and refining his peerless dance moves. He is so beloved, in fact, all members of the group attended his wife’s funeral for support.

“It’s great – the group is so nice. We’re like one family,” said Trujillo.

Trujillo has spent most of his life mastering his favorite styles of dance: East Coast, West Coast and the “Cha-Cha- Cha.” He said the dancers in the Great Lakes Swing Club are much different than the individuals he encountered in Mexico – they’re more professional.

He is especially impressed with his regular swing partner and former dance teacher Terri Council, who he said is just as good as the contestants on ABC’s reality TV series “Dancing with the Stars.”

Trujillo has no plans of slowing down just yet. He celebrated his birthday by dancing with Terri, spending time with his daughters and granddaughters and eating cake among his Great Lakes Swing Club friends.

“I feel great – I give thanks to God for being in such good health.”

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