“It is a lot of fun, and you are on the move constantly, so it is good exercise”
You may think square dancing is a colourful part of the past, but assuming the art has died is a mistake.
Airdrie is home base to the Rockyview Ramblers Square Dance Club, a group of about 30 aficionados who gather weekly at the Christian Education Building on First Avenue to enjoy an evening of dancing and laughter.
“It is great exercise, but more importantly it is a great way to meet people,” says Joyce Allen, club spokesperson. “We do it because we love to dance.”
Joyce notes the club, which has existed for about 30 years, isn’t just for grandparents: dancers as young as eight years old have enjoyed an evening of do-si-do-ing and promenading to numerous genres of music, from classical to western to rock.
According to online sources, square dancing traces its roots to Europe in the 1600s. The modern form, with its standardized moves, is an American-European hybrid dance that reached a peak of popularity in the early to mid 1900s.
Allen says the dance is so named because four couples form a square while dancing. Dancers also often wear stylized outfits such as a peasant shirt and large skirt with a crinoline for women and dress pants and a western-style shirt for men, although Allen says any comfortable outfit and non-rubber-soled shoes are fine to start.
The dance is probably best known for its trained callers, who not only cue dancers, but also entertain them as well. Allen says the Rockyview Ramblers has one of the best callers around. It’s an important job, she notes, as there are 52 basic moves for beginners to learn before moving onto mainstream dancing.
The club will help with the learning, too. In fact, the Ramblers will be hosting beginner classes starting in January 2019.
But learning the moves is just the beginning of the fun. Club members earn badges for special events and dances, and perform at events, such as Stampede breakfasts and airdrieFEST. The group is also part of a larger regional community giving dancers plenty of opportunities to get out and meet new people.
Allen knows all about the social aspect of square dancing. In fact, she met her husband David at a square dancing convention nearly 40 years ago.
The duo hit it off and have been dancing – with a brief hiatus when their kids were young – ever since.
“You can dance for many years,” explains Allen. “It is a lot of fun, and you are on the move constantly, so it is good exercise. It is just good, clean fun.”
To find out more about the Rockyview Ramblers, visit the group on Facebook or contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org. New dancers of all ages, including families and singles, are welcome.