Music makes Clara Garcia's feet wiggle

Clara Garcia’s childhood in the Philippines begins her love for dancing. 

“When I was a young girl, I always wanted to dance,” Garcia says. “My parents were very strict, but Filipino people love to dance, and any time there was a public occasion in our town, everyone could dance.”
Clara Garcia (left) dancing with Lyle Malaski at the Port Huron Senior Center Talent Show.
“One evening when I was 15 or 16, there was a big dance competition at night in our town,” Garcia says. “I wanted to go very badly, so I escaped through my bedroom window and went out to my next-door neighbor, my friend, Norma. I changed clothes on her porch. Tango is my favorite dance, and I had a partner who was also my high school friend, so I danced and won first place in tango.” 

Garcia continued, “The following day was market day and my mother went to the market. One of the mothers at the market said to my mom, ‘Your daughter is a good dancer.’  My mother said but she’s not allowed to dance. ‘Yeah, but she won first place at the dance last night.’

“My mom was very upset,” Garcia says. “Next time, Mom said, just let us know where you are going and what time you will be home.”

Over seventy years have gone by since winning that tango dance, and Garcia’s passion for dance has not dimmed. 

“Every time I hear music, my feet are wiggling,” Garcia says. “To me, it’s exercise, and my favorite music now is swing.” 

Garcias’s wiggling feet have taken her to many places other than dance floors and ballrooms.  

Over 60 years, Garcia has visited over 30 countries including France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Germany, Israel, and Croatia. Her dancing feet have even walked the Great Wall of China. 

In 2022, Garcia visited the last two states she had not been to: Idaho and Wyoming. As Garcia wrote in her biography, “The quest is complete.  After arriving in this country on May 11, 1960, I have now seen all fifty states.”
Clara Garcia hula hooping at the Port Huron Senior Center.
And then there’s Garcia's experience with the hula hoop.

“I was walking in a flea market in Florida and I saw a hula hoop,” Garcia says. “That was not a priority for a kid in the Philippines, so I never had one. I bought this hula hoop and tried it, but failed. Tried again and failed. The third time, I made it. I can do 1,500 turns without dropping it.”

What wisdom does this world traveler, mother, and grandmother wish to share with those who want to enjoy life as fully as she does?

“Perseverance,” Garcia says. “Do not quit.  Keep going. If I am right, just keep going. There’s always a way. I learned the hula hoop in my sixties.”
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John Lusk taught composition and journalism at St. Clair County Community College level for over 30 years. Serving the Port Huron community and practicing the writing craft is his current focus. You may reach him at