Women cut loose at shrimp feast fund-raiser in Del.

February 25, 1991

LEWES, Del. (AP) -- They danced on tables. They danced on chairs. They jerked and shimmied to music to fit the night -- "U Can't Touch This" and "Born to Be Wild."

Nearly 500 women packed a Lewes fire house and cut loose for a ladies-only Shrimp Feast Friday night. They were making up for more than 50 years of staying home while their husbands and boyfriends whooped it up at the all-male Oyster Eat in Georgetown, Del., on the last Friday in February.

"We've got women hanging from the rafters with one hand and eating shrimp with the other," said Diane Gruber of Rehoboth Beach.

"They all are just going wild, so to speak," said Annabelle Jones of Lewes, who rarely took a breather from the dance floor.

She said she hadn't danced that much since Christmas.

Shelly Raimondo, who was among the regular table-top dancers, said she was "long overdue" for a night out to "cut loose."

Kay Leppo of Lewes danced with the best of them, but at 78 years old, wouldn't put on a table-top show.

"I shook a little bit, but not on a table. That's for the young ones," she said.

From 8 p.m. to midnight, and for $14 at the door, it was all the steamed shrimp you could eat, beer you could guzzle and wine you could drink.

There was coffee, sodas, homemade clam chowder, sandwiches, boiled eggs and pickles.

The ladies twisted with Chubby Checker, jitterbugged with Elvis Presley and sang their hearts out when a chorus struck a nerve, like "Take this job and shove it, I ain't workinghere no more."

The Shrimp Feast was a fund-raiser for the Lewes Fire Department, patterned after the annual Oyster Eat, a stag affair that was held for the 54th year during the same hours Friday night, about 16 miles west of Lewes.

The Oyster Eat, a fund-raiser for the Georgetown Fire Company, has a reputation of being a rowdy affair where men guzzle beer, suck down oysters and kick up their heels to a bluegrass band on a sawdust-covered floor.

"We feel that these ladies came here tonight to make up for 50 years of being deprived of the Oyster Eat and now they've got their own," said Louis A. Rickards, Lewes Fire Department president.

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