New England Doo Wop Society celebrating 10th anniversary

By Lisa Stone - ReminderNews
Enfield - posted Wed., Jan. 8, 2014
Doo Wop band Flashdance gets the party hopping. Photos by Lisa Stone.
Doo Wop band Flashdance gets the party hopping. Photos by Lisa Stone.

The Enfield Holiday Inn was hopping with music and dance on New Year's Eve, as the New England Doo Wop Society offered entertainment by a band, Flashback, and a DJ, Tunes by Tony. The moment the band started to play, people hit the dance floor.

Doo Wop Society President Bob Belniak and Vice President Gary Jones created the society 10 years ago. "We used to run two to three buses to Radio City Music Hall in New York City for Doo Wop shows," said Belniak. "Once that came to an end, there was no place to go. Gary and I discussed it and agreed that we needed to fix this problem by starting our own society and finding a place to host our shows."

This became a labor of love for the pair. The first show was held at the Grand Ball Room at the Holiday Inn in Holyoke, Mass. It was clear within the first hour of the show that the venue was not large enough to handle the amount of Doo Wop enthusiasts. From there they went on to the Hu Ke Lau restaurant in Chicopee, Mass., for one year, on to the Castle of Knights, also in Chicopee, for the following seven years, and finally, the Cedars Banquet Hall in Springfield, Mass. This has been the home for the society for the past three years.

The shows open with a local group, soon after that an a cappella group entertains the audience and finally the main act hits the stage. "We are committed to authentic Doo Wop bands," said Jones. "That is why we are so successful. We don't allow any bogus bands. We know real Doo Wop music when we hear it.”

Jones was a drummer for popular bands and singers in the ’60s and ’70s. He worked with the likes of; Roy Orbison, Dion, Little Joey and The Flipps, The Dynamics, The Velvets, The Buck Rogers Movement and Bobby Rydell. He was also drummer for the Mount Tom's House Band. As for Belniak, he is still in the business. He has been a disc jockey for more than 37 years. He has had his own radio show with WTCC since the 1990s. It airs on Tuesday nights from 9 p.m. to 12 a.m. This is the part of their history that drives them to accept nothing less than authentic Doo Wop music. Their passion is what ensures the fans that they will get their money's worth.

The society offered a night full of music, dancing, eating and celebrating on Dec. 31. The society has between 250 and 300 charter members. According to Jones and Belniak, the reason they are so successful is that they have so much fun and they are a clean act. "It is a great way to enjoy yourself and have good, clean fun," said Jones. With three shows a year, in March, June and October, as well as the big New Year's Eve show, they offer several nights of entertainment as well as getting to know other Doo Wop enthusiasts. There is a 10th anniversary party planned for this March. To join the club and to find more information, visit www.newenglanddoowopsociety.org.


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