September 17, 2009 at 7:45 a.m.
Summertime is nearly over…

Why not go square dancing? Local clubs active

Why not go square dancing? Local clubs active
Why not go square dancing? Local clubs active

Bring up the topic of square dancing and many people's first thought is of those clumsy, often-ridiculed early teen square dance experiences in school; envision a tangled mess of adolescents trying mightily to not touch each other.

Yet somehow we manage to move on, grow up and maybe even rediscover skills or activities we had exposure to in our formative years. Take for instance the many members of local clubs active in the Minnesota Square Dancing Federation, proof positive that the pursuit of happiness through square dancing is alive and well.

And, it was a happy bunch, as the Jolly Promenaders Club hosted its annual lesson session last weekend at Wyoming United Methodist Church.

Club Secretary Elaine Zeller and co-presidents Rita Pietruszewski and husband Gordy, were quick to make newcomers feel welcome. The church community room floor was polished and the brownies and fruit were nicely arrayed on plates on a folding table. Within minutes of the published 6 p.m. start time there were two "squares" of dancers partnered up and moving about the floor.

In between dances with this reporter, Gordy explained that there are about 70 different combinations of steps you can learn to become proficient. Once you get a few down you can square dance anywhere in the world, and the callers all use the English language. Gordy added that it was good fun hearing a Japanese square dance caller, while he was attending the world square dancing convention held recently in the Twin Cities.

The lesson session at United Methodist covered about six or seven of these combinations. Jolly Promenader Club members would gently direct the newbies where they should go, and, if it weren't for a certain reporter unable to differentiate left from right, the "square" would have been humming like clockwork.

Rita said square dance in east central Minnesota is thriving. "You could dance somewhere almost seven days a week," she added. The North Branch Squares dance at Mainstreet School, the Cambridge Corners Club will dance at Isanti Intermediate School and Balsam Lake, Wisconsin has a club that uses Unity School, just north of Balsam Lake. There's several dances scheduled in coming weeks, also not far away, in Roseville at the National Guard Armory on North McCarrons Blvd.

The official Square Dance Federation website is at www.squaredancing minnesota.com

The Jolly Promenaders dance the third Saturday of every month (during the school year) at the Forest Lake Senior Center. Dances start about 7 p.m. The next one is in two days, Sept. 19. The club doesn't hold dances as often in summertime

There are dues for club members in order to pay the professional caller, for a statewide newsletter/magazine and to use the space for dances.

It is not mandatory to "dress" for dancing and most at the church session just had on regular, comfortable shoes, jeans or a skirt. Come prepared to perspire a bit. Rita said one dancer wore a pedometer and the mileage came to about four miles by the end of the a night of dancing.

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