As a 6-year-old girl growing up in Queens, her mother told her "good girls don't go dancing."
It may have taken her several decades to shake the adage, but now Jean Mastrangelo is 102 -- and she's making up for lost time by strapping on her dancing shoes at least three times per week.
Fellow dancer Susan Melnick wrote to NBC New York ahead of Mastrangelo's 103rd birthday on Thursday to share the story of the extraordinary centenarian who is showing no signs of slowing down.
Despite her age, Mastrangelo still dances at three different venues each week, and always looks immaculate, Melnick said.
"Everyone admires Jean and her positive attitude.
"She dresses for dancing every week with a skirt, and let’s not forget her heels. Yes, at 102 years old, Jean wears heels when she dances," she said.
On Tuesdays Mastrangelo's daughter drives her to a dance in Ridgewood, on Wednesdays her son drives her to Mineola, and on Fridays the great-grandmother takes two buses to get to the Bayside Senior Center.
Mastrangelo has lived through two world wars and 18 presidents.
She was born in Queens just before World War I began, on July 20 1914, the sixth of eight children.
The light-footed centenarian studied millinery at Manhattan Industrial High School, and said she once made a hat covered in peanuts.
Mastrangelo has two children, Patricia and Paul, three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Despite being interested in dancing when she was 6 years old, Mastrangelo held out until she was 67 to begin learning to move. Now she credits dancing with keeping her fit and youthful.
"She loves to dance and she loves people," Melnick explained.
"Jean always has a positive attitude. She loves people and it shows with every interaction."