Gathered in the old VFW hall were people of all shapes and sizes, backgrounds and ages (well, mostly our age or older, dear readers!) The wooden floor of the hall, reminiscent of a 1950s school cafeteria, was about to be transformed into a platform of rhythm, movements, and joy. The joy manifests as you rediscover that it is nearly impossible to square dance and not grin while doing so. Even, or maybe especially when you cannot master the simple commands! Although my last and only introduction to square dancing was in a third grade gym class, the phrases, “Do-Si-Do, “Swing your Partner,” and “Promenade” rang familiar even as their motions did not.
Jokingly and to mask my embarrassment, I excused my two left feet to the different partners I had. It’s true that the kindest and most friendly people you’ll ever meet square dance. And they hug – I believe they called it a yellow rock. I’m not a hugger so I had to fake it. The hoopin’ and hollerin’, now that I can do! The hall of 100 dancers somehow parades around the room to separate into groups of eight. Some sets are clearly better than others. I found my way into a particularly remedial group that was well-suited to my novice status and talent level. Kind as the group as a whole was, I’m pretty sure two onlookers were guffawing and unable to contain their good-natured snorts.
My first impressions of square dancers is that they are salt of the earth people who have a large sense of humor and an even larger sense of fun. They are comfortable in their own skins, which are usually clad in denim and t-shirts until the theme nights roll around. Many genuinely urged us to return (I recruited a husband and sister for a couple of the sessions.) On the first night, the caller referred to me as “the teenager in front” in need of a partner, insuring I would come back at least one more time. And now, after attending three sessions, I decided I don’t have two left feet after all. I have two left hands!