GLENWOOD SPRINGS — If anything is a constant in Julian Vogt’s life, it’s his love for dancing and laughing. The two always find each other, like two friends on a playground. Sometimes dancing comes first. Often the laughter initiates it all.
It’s a lot like the chicken-before-the-egg question.
This week, Vogt has been celebrating his April 20 birthday, which this year was Easter Sunday. He turned 103, I turned 42. My age is only significant because that’s how we became friends. He noticed we had the same birthday. He believed this required celebratory soup and beers. And of course, dancing.
He emailed me about this and we have been friends since.
Last year, we danced to a Beatles tribute band after soup and wine spritzers. This year, I thought we might mix it up so I asked Julian if there was anything he wanted to do in the valley. I told him I would take him there. I thought maybe he would go a little crazy and say paragliding. Maybe go on a Segway cruise. I secretly hoped he had a hankering for a zipline experience across the Colorado River. Nothing like that. He chose two-stepping.
And I was completely OK with that.
That doesn’t mean it was easy. The real issue is I always think I’m a better dancer than I really am. This is especially evident anytime there’s a mirror in the vicinity of where I’m doing the dancing. I was pretty silly with my own version of the two-step, while Julian helped me look halfway decent. In the Aspen Sante Fe Ballet studio at Third Street, where world-class dancers have pirouetted and lindy hopped, Julian laughed it off. He told me not to worry about it.
“The thing about dancing is you can do whatever you want,” Julian said. “There are no rules.”
Vogt sees no reason to fuss over whether he’s dancing right. Or over his age for that matter. I always get the feeling he thinks it’s funny.
Most people always think Vogt is younger than 103. He likes to play the age-guessing game with strangers. He usually wins unless I spoil it first by blurting out his age. I advanced him another year by writing “Happy 104th birthday, Julian!” on his birthday card.
He laughed and didn’t seem to have a problem with it.
Along with dancing the two-step, Vogt has been celebrating 103 in many ways, including a party at the Glenwood Danse Academy with his good friend DeAnna Anderson, dinners out on the town, and dancing. Can’t leave out dancing. He is popular, no doubt. “Hello Julian!” is as common as the smile people have on their face when they first see him.
Everywhere he goes, people know Julian Vogt by name.
Vogt has the best story in the valley and we love him for it. I thought in between birthday parties and two-stepping I could catch Julian to see how 103 is treating him. Luckily, he loves to two-step, talk and email. I thought the world might enjoy some of Vogt’s well-earned wisdom.
This is Julian Vogt, in short.
April Clark: I’ve noticed you like to play “guess my age” with people. What’s the youngest age someone has guessed and what was your reaction?
Julian Vogt: I am not interested in being young; but I partly contradict that statement by saying I want to be fit, which is a big part of looking young. Fitness — physical, mental, spiritual — is my hobby and my main goal. The youngest age guessed was 73. I was happy and I thanked the guesser.
AC: I would be happy, too. What event in your life completely changed how you see the world?
JV: Fifteen years of mountain farm life gave me a very comprehensive view of the world. Maybe I did not realize that then, but I learned to see the world with a perspective. Of course, this view was enhanced with my long attendance at many universities. State unis were dirt cheap, and I was a *‘university tramp’, both before and during my work life. (* Galt Tech, San Diego State, University of Arizona, CU-Boulder, UC-Berkeley, U of Buenos Aires, GWU-DC, U Geneva CH (Swiss), U Salzburg, Austria, etc., ad nauseum.
AC: If you could go skiing with three people in history, who would they be?
JV: 1) Shakespeare, whom I studied long. And hard. And with great interest at UC-Berkeley. 2) Bernedetto Croce, Italian philosopher, where I studied “beauty” at Denver Library while an honor student at CU-Boulder. 3) Inger Damsholt, Denmark, who wrote a thesis on “Relationship of Music and Dance”. This is my second hobby and goal, after fitness. Both music and dance, mainly classical and folk, not pop folk, must be explained to the “Pop Generation.”
AC: What type of things in life make you laugh?
JV: Happy things, ludicrous situations. In Veronica Whitney’s front page article in the PI there’s a Burns quote: “I’ve been given a lemon tree, and I’m making lemonade.” Reading that made me laugh and laugh.
AC: Where were you when: WWII ended; JFK was shot; and the Sept. 11 attacks took place?
JV: When WWII ended, I was flying, with many stopovers, from Argentina to DC. When JFK was shot, I was in McLean, Virginia, working for the U.S. Army. When Sept. 11 attacks took place, I was in Glenwood Springs, retired, with my wife, Anne.
AC: What was the most important lesson you taught your children?
JV: A high ethical standard.
AC: If an eighth wonder of the world was ever added, what would it be and why?
JV: Iguazu Falls, Argentine/Brazil, because of great extent and natural habitat.
AC: Why did you choose Glenwood Springs to be your forever home?
JV: Mountains, educational/cultural possibilities, skiing, Hot Springs Pool.
AC: What is your favorite dance scene in a movie?
JV: Ballet dance scene of “Ballet Russe” with Vaslav Nijinsky and Anna Pavlova.
AC: What did you do Thursday?
JV: BarreFit class from 8:30-9:30 a.m.; PI photos at 11 a.m. in pool; and music for CRMS seniors at 7 p.m. in the CRMS Barn.
AC: You know, like most 103-year-olds.