Poodle skirts and saddle shoes will be in fashion again when the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 521 Auxiliary, in Owings Mills, hosts its annual Sock Hop from 7 to 11 p.m. on Saturday, March 12.

The event is open to anyone 21 and older. Tickets are $10 each and all proceeds benefit the VFW Auxiliary Cancer Research Fund, which is administered by the nonprofit National VFW Auxiliary for cancer aid and research. Tickets can be purchased in advance or at the door.


Donna Markus, VFW Post 521 Auxiliary secretary, said the VFW auxiliaries across the country raise hundreds of thousands of dollars each year that goes into the national cancer fund, established in 1947. VFW Post 521 Auxiliary began the Sock Hop, named after a dance event popular with teenagers in the 1950s, to raise money for the cancer research fund. Now in its tenth year, it has become the post's major annual fundraiser to support the cause.

"The money that is raised is used in two ways," Markus said. "First of all, [the VFW Auxiliary Cancer Research Fund] grants several research grants a year around the country. Johns Hopkins [Hospital] has gotten some, the Mayo Clinic has gotten some; people who are doing cutting edge research in cancer. They give grants directly to the researcher, not to the facility, so it is used directly for cancer research. The other way the money is used is it comes back to the individual post."

This year, three members of Post 521 have been diagnosed with cancer and they all have received grants from the VFW Auxiliary Cancer Research Fund. Markus said the grants, which range from $300 to $550 depending on funds available each year, are used to offset a patient's expenses. Each auxiliary member is entitled to two grants in their lifetime.

Markus, who heads up the Sock Hop along with auxiliary junior vice president Dawn Daly and auxiliary treasurer Pat McConville, said everyone is welcome to join the party at the event Saturday.

"We would love to see more people. It is open to the community and anybody that would like to come," she said.

The evening will include dancing, door prizes and a menu of beer, sodas, chips, and pretzels. Guests are also welcome to bring snacks and other beverages, including beer and other alcohol, of their own.

For VFW Post 521 Auxiliary member Pam Stewart, who said she enjoyed the Sock Hop so much last year that she would be returning this year, the ticket price is worth it.

"It is really fun. It is just a really good time with really good people," Stewart said. "Where else can you have a good time for $10 a person?"

The music, which will set the theme for the night, will be provided by Eez Gewd Karaoke and Music, based in Reisterstown, and will feature hits from the '50s, '60s and '70s. Markus said they always have lots of dancing.

"Last year we had a bunch of people from the Buddy Deane Show," Markus said.

The "Deaners," as they were known, were regular dancers on the "Buddy Deane Show," Baltimore's version of the "Dick Clark's American Bandstand" dance show that aired on local TV from 1957 until 1964.

Markus said many local VFW members themselves danced on the Buddy Deane Show and, in previous years, the dancing crowd at the Sock Hop has broken out into classic dances like the Jitterbug, the Madison and the Cha Cha.

Norma Martel, another auxiliary member who attended the Sock Hop last year, grew up in the '50s and '60s and said she enjoyed remembering the old times.

"It is always nice to reminisce and go back and hear all that good music again. It is just a whole lot of fun," said Martel.


For guests who would like to embrace the good old days even more, retro outfits are welcome.

"Some years we have had [guests] come dressed like 'Grease' or close to it," McConville said. "We've had poodle skirts, the cuffed-up jeans … but that's up to them. If they feel like dressing up that's wonderful, if they don't that is fine, too."

Individuals will also have a chance to win door prizes in drawings that run throughout the night. Prizes will include several gunlocks, a lawn care gift certificate, and a gift certificate from Smokey's Barbeque Restaurant in Eldersburg. Other prizes expected are wine and other local eatery gift certificates.

Stewart, who already has her ticket, said she encourages others to come out and enjoy the dance.

"If they like the old music or want to see what it was like, they should come," she said. "It's just a really good time and a really great group of people and wonderful music."

McConville also encourages the community to come out for fun and to support cancer research.

"Come out and enjoy yourself. Enjoy friendship and support a great cause," McConville said. "Everyone has had cancer touch their life in one way or another and if we can stop the disease and have a good time doing it, hey — you got to make the best of it while you're here."

Debbie Pearl is a correspondent for the Community Times and can be reached via email at debbie.pearl@yahoo.com.

If you go:

What: The VFW Auxiliary Post 521's Sock Hop

Where: The VFW Post 521, at 214 Tollgate Road, Owings Mills

When: 7 to 11 p.m. Saturday, March 12

Cost: Tickets can be purchased for $10 by contacting Donna Markus at 410 336 9125 or Pat McConville at 410 356 3560 or by stopping by the post any day during open hours from noon to 9 p.m.

For more information: Contact the VFW Post 521 by phone at 410-356-6578 or call Markus or McConville