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LEARNING TO SQUARE DANCE

November 22, 2007

This is an extract of correspondence I received from Jim Pead in the USA.  It appears that his comments’ regarding learners applies to South Australian clubs and I suspect many other parts of the world.  Just how do we expand our diminishing numbers?  

"As 1 said last month, leading a square dance club is more work than we expected and imagined. Fortunately, Betsy is absolutely excellent at detail work and is keeping track of schedules, events, callers, and almost everything else.  

She has me do the announcements at club! That is really no small thing for there are a myriad of people to thank and recognize for their efforts. Truly our club members are all dedicated and make great efforts on behalf of the Lake Livingston Levis and Lace.

Our fall class is off to a good start. If you recall "the lady in the white pickup," her name is Freda and she has come several times. It is difficult to impress on the newer dancers the importance of regular attendance. They see it as a new and fun activity, in which they partake, but do not see the importance of being there each and every week to hone their skills and ability to dance. That is when square dancing gets to be really fun, when you can accurately follow the calls.  

One of the most fun couples we have are Ty and Brenda Martindale. Brenda is the activities director at Escapees and keeps a busy schedule herself When we first approached them about learning to dance, she was reluctant. Then it developed that Ty, in a prior life, had been a square dancer! She is determined to learn to dance and "catch up" with Ty.  

We are trying to develop incentives for the newer students to really bond with the club. We include the students in all activities, not just the dancing. For instance, we will be having a major dance in November, our annual Thanksgiving dance. It has always been successful before, drawing good numbers of people.  This is our major fund-raiser for the year, so it is important to draw a good crowd. The club members are all asked to either cook turkeys or a ham, and bring two side dishes per couple. A little further down the road we will have a "Toys for Tots" dance, and a Christmas dance. Frankly it is a lot to keep track of and Betsy is doing a super job." 

As James Read (James who?) said– square dancing is great socially and provides excellent cardio vascular exercise. How can we attract new dancers?  Should we go into competition with fitness centres?  What do our readers think? 

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