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Square dancers are still kicking it (Video)

By by jessica rodrigo/jrodrigo@vicad.com
Feb. 6, 2013 at 3 p.m.
Updated Feb. 6, 2013 at 8:07 p.m.

Square dancers dance at the Sparkling City Singles & Pairs Square Dance Club Lessons.

Listening to the caller at a square dance is almost like sitting in on an auction - the language can be hard to follow if you don't know what you're listening for.

On the floor, couples are twirling in circles, clapping their hands and tapping their toes to the music in between calls and moves. Members of the Sparkling City Singles and Pairs get together every Monday to dance from 6:30 to 8:45 p.m. Most of them have already cleared time to make an appearance in Port Lavaca for the South Texas Square and Round Dance Association's third annual February Frenzy. Dancers from all over South Texas and beyond will converge on the Bauer Community Center for friends, fellowship and fun.

Lana Davis, the association's dance coordinator and past president of the Sparkling City square dance club in Corpus Christi, said the event will be a lot of fun. There's going to be live music, food and dancing, of course.

"We revived a festival that used to be held annually many years ago when it died out," said Davis, of Portland.

The association is comprised of nine clubs in South Texas but draws people from all over the state, the country and sometimes across the globe.

"You can square dance anywhere in the world," she said. "I've danced in Japan. We've had square dancers come from England, Germany, France and no matter where you go, the calls are always in English."

Square dancing is the only form recognized as an American dance, Davis said.

Sixty-six-year-old Davis, who has been dancing for 27 years, got back into the groove after she saw an advertisement in the paper for it. She remembered learning a few square dancing moves when she was in sixth grade and thought it would be a fun way to meet new people. Eventually, the Sparkling City club became home.

Square and round dancing are both choreographed, but Davis described round dancing as a ballroom-style dance for pairs. Eight people are needed to create a square and each dancer has an arsenal of moves to keep them moving to the music.

Just as a caller in bingo calls the numbers for the players, the designated caller calls the moves for the dancers. But the callers are a special breed. They go through a training process to learn all the different calls, and once they complete the process, they are the ones who pull the strings on their puppet dancers.

Wayne Spiller, of Victoria, is one of the few members left of the Victoria Promenaders. He said the group is one couple short of completing a square but that they still get together sometimes and dance in his garage. When he doesn't have a square to dance with in town, he ventures out to join other clubs like the Ocean Waves in Rockport, the Ganado Mustang Squares and more on the floor.

Spiller has been a square dancer for 40 years and said he dances in the plus level.

"You have to know at least 100 calls," the 72-year-old said. "I just think it's the most enjoyable. It gets more complicated."

He said he hopes square dancing gets more attention soon because it's a dying art.

"Square dancing is social entertainment," he said. "Now people are more interested in their phones and the Internet. We used to get to know each other through square dancing."

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