Swing Your Partner Round and Round

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Categories: In Our Communities

 “If you know your right hand from your left and can walk a block, you can square dance – whether you’re eight years old or 80,” says Don Williams of the Will Rogers Squares, Claremore’s square dancing club. Don and his wife, Del, are charter members of the club and were brought together twice by square dancing. In 1972, Don and his first wife introduced their neighbors Del and her first husband to square dancing. Years later, both had been widowed and ended up seeing each other at a dance. “A lot of seniors have met and married through square dancing clubs,” says Del.
Don and Del say the camaraderie is what they enjoy most about square dancing. “My dad was a square dance caller in the 30s and 40s. Back then each circle had an individual caller. Today they have big fancy microphones and one person can call to thousands of dancers,” says Don. “You take old traditions – like farm, families and friends – and bring them into the modern world and refine them, introduce them to the modern equipment, and the fun, friendship and fellowship remain the same.”
The square dance consists of groups of four couples and is performed in a compact framework of a square, each couple forming a side. The couples perform a variety of movements prompted by the singing calls (instruction) of a “caller.” Cooperative movement is the hallmark of well-executed square dancing. “We welcome both couples and singles to our club, and you do not need to have any experience,” says Del. “Square dancing is good physical therapy and good mental therapy. It is good exercise, and you can clear your mind. There’s a lot of hoopin’ and hollerin’, clapping and stomping, and everyone has a wonderful time.”
Learning the basic steps is easy. Experienced square dance callers teach you the moves and the names of the calls that you dance. You practice those moves until they feel as natural as walking. The caller combines the basic moves and steps into whole dance patterns. You and your teammates follow the calls – each arm turn brings a surprise – and as the pattern concludes, all the arm turns bring you back to your partner. “Beginners need a series of about 15 lessons to learn the basics. There are three rules to square dancing: listen to your caller, listen to your caller, listen to your caller,” says Don. “Our club’s caller, Lee Main, is one of the best callers in the country.”
Square dancing attire is as individual as you want it to be. Many women like lots of ruffles, with bloomers and can-cans underneath. Other ladies prefer jeans and boots. Men wear western shirts, T-shirts, slacks or jeans, and boots or comfortable shoes.
Del says square dancing is a wonderful activity for young families. “It’s inexpensive, and you don’t have to get a babysitter – just bring the kids with you. And they always feed you!”
The Will Rogers Squares meet every 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month at 7:30 p.m. at the American Legion Hall, located on Highway 88 just north of Will Rogers Memorial. You’ll find couples, singles, grandpas dancing with their granddaughters, and everyone in between. Don has plans to add some exciting new ideas to the club soon, including karaoke and line dances. All are welcome to attend and enjoy friendship, fellowship, fitness and lots of fun.

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