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Valentin Badich, 75, Who Dances All Night Long

At 75, he dances the boogie-woogie, rockabilly, rock-and-roll, twist, shake, disco, and much more. He out-dances everyone: when the youth around him can't go on, he keeps dancing.

The most energetic rock-and-roller of the Urals has never taken exercise seriously, but has always loved good company (and there is no better company than people who like to dance). But, when he turned forty, Valentin started experiencing joint pain. They hurt so much that within a short time, Valentin could no longer move around without crutches. After trying numerous therapies at numerous hospitals, the doctors informed Badich that he will need titanium joint implants. Valentin looked at the 'lucky' patients who underwent the same surgery and found that they were still walking with canes. On top of that, he found out that synthetic joints need to be replaced every few years. Realizing all this, Valentin Badich left the hospital.

He decided to treat himself. What did it matter? The doctors couldn't do anything, anyway. Badich's self-healing regiment consisted of taking natural medicine and – most importantly – conquering pain through movement, lots and lots of movement. He began by walking. He forced himself to walk and up down the stairs every day. Then, he added running. Then, dancing. Dancing turned out to be the most fun. Badich ran up and down stairs and danced for two years. He was cured.

Now, seeing him dance the night away at a club, it's impossible to imagine that there was a time when this person could barely move without crutches. Valentin dances no less than twice a week: in clubs in the winter, and in summer – at open stages and waterfronts.

“Wherever the youth gathers, ” Valentin clarifies gleefully.

I was very worried when planning the photo shoot with Badich. I sat in the studio thinking, any minute, an older man who is a constrained dancer will arrive, and, out of politeness, I will have to pretend like he is doing very well.

How wrong I was! Badich is a great dancer. He danced through our three-hour shoot, without loosing his breath. He was so great that toward the end of our session, everyone was dancing with him: assistants, lighting technicians, me (snapping photos in motion), and even two models from the photo shoot in the next studio.

“The biggest pleasure in life is good friendship and good company, ” says Valentin Badich. “I have a big group of friends, from my university days. And, recently, I met up with my friends from grade school – we celebrated our 50th reunion. I danced rock-and-roll with my girlfriend.”

It's hard for me to imagine what kind of impression that must have left on his seventy-year-old school peers.