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Seresa “Nut” Coleman, owner of longtime Benning Road NE hand-dancing club The Chateau passed away on April 1. He was 84.

Coleman opened The Chateau in 1967 and it has since become a legendary club, hosting a number of heavy-hitting soul acts over the years including Denise LaSalle, The Marvelettes, The Dynamic Superiors, and more. In recent years, Coleman’s comfortable but worn-around-the-edges room, notably located between a church and a liquor store near I-295, became best-known for hosting hand dancing, a D.C. version of swing dancing.

In 2015, the Washington City Paper included “Breeze Country,” the public access TV hand dance program recorded on Wednesday evenings at The Chateau, as part of its Best Of issue. Many of the Wednesday night regulars also attend the weekly Friday hand-dancing night that’s kind of like a high school reunion for longtime D.C. residents who grew up in ’50s through the ’70s.

According to a 2005 Washington Post article, Coleman regularly invited groups of mentally handicapped people to come and dance on Thursday nights at the club. The Post noted that Coleman, who used to repair city sewer lines before transforming a grocery store into a nightclub, was also known for donating Thanksgiving baskets to schools and the police department. In recent years Coleman suffered from health issues including strokes, but “Breeze Country” host Daniel “Hollywood Breeze” Clayton says that Coleman was a “fighter” who persevered despite his medical woes. D.C. soul singer Skip Mahoney says “I remember the Chateau being a club that was always there for the local entertainers. Whenever you worked there you were always treated with respect and Mr. Coleman, Nut as we all called him, was always a gracious host. It was like coming home. His kind face will surely be missed.” Clayton says that Coleman’s son plans to keep the Chateau and its hand-dance nights going.

A funeral service for Mr. Seresa Coleman is Sat., April 9 at Spirit of Faith Christian Center, 2261 Oxon Run Drive, Temple Hills. The viewing is from 9:30 a.m. -11 a.m., the service is 11 a.m. to 12:20 p.m. The repast is from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at The Chateau, 3439 Benning Rd. NE.

Photo by Sheila Rieser