The woman on the other side of the dance floor caught the attention of Onesino Ramirez. So, he walked up to Lucina Arenales to ask if she’d hold his hand and join for a dance — if only for a few minutes..
The dance, he said in his native Spanish, was “memorable.” The couple stepped together for the better part of the next hour, and married just a few months later.
Little did they know three quarters of a century later they’d still be dancing together, all the way from that first dance in their native Atlatlahucan, Mexico, to Las Vegas.
“It was incredible to have a golden anniversary 25 years ago, but to get this far is special,” he said. “We’re still living happily together.”
Onesino, 99, and Lucina, 91, will celebrate their 75th wedding anniversary in Las Vegas next weekend with bells, incense and prayer at Christ the King Catholic Church. The anniversary festivities will come one day after Onesino celebrates his 100th birthday with family and friends over a family meal at the South Point.
The longtime Atlatlahucan natives have visited Las Vegas regularly for the better part of the last 40 years, primarily to feed Onesino’s affinity for playing the slots and seeing shows, said their son Luis Ramirez, 67. The couple moved to Victorville, Calif., in 2012 to live among their three children, 10 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren, and continue visiting the valley well into their 90s.
Last week, one month before the couple reaches a new milestone, they stood proudly at the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign in a matching grey and silver-colored suit and dress. They paused in-between camera clicks, looked at each other, and kissed.
“We continue to have a strong bond and friendship,” Lucina later said.
Onesino Ramirez, a corn farmer, was described by daughters Juana Torres, 71, and Isabel Carrera, 63, as “the most hardworking man” they’ve ever known. But his 14- to 16-hour workdays always include time for dinner with Lucina, who stayed at home and raised the children in their rural Mexican hometown.
No dance was off-limits or too difficult for the couple. From cumbia to danzón and even corridos, they did it all. That joy has spread to their children, who also practice the art. Their children say they can only hope for the longevity their parents have displayed, both in life and in love.
“They’ve always been a very unified couple and a great example for us,” Torres said. “Day after day, year after year, they’ve walked alongside one another.”