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October 18, 2013

Square dancing as easy as A-B-C

Members of the Thunder Mountain Twirlers participate in a spring square dance event in Tucson the day before St. Patrick’s Day. For those interested in learning the basics of square dancing, Thunder Mountain Twirlers begins the “ABC Fun Dance Program,” which takes place every Fridays at the Sierra Vista Lutheran Church Oct. 25-Jan. 10.

Two and a half years ago, Mike Smithers, never thought he would become square dance fanatic.

Today, the Army veteran is a member of the square dance group, Thunder Mountain Twirlers, and a square dance caller—and he’s calling on others to come and share his experience at the “ABC Fun Dance Program,” which starts Oct. 25.

“I never thought I would square dance much less join a club, much less learn to call square dancing, it’s just so much fun, it really is, and the people are wonderful. It’s worth everybody checking out,” Smithers said. “I had the time of my life, and I’ve been addicted to it ever since. It’s good exercise and it keeps your mind going.”

The ABC Fun Dance Program teaches the basics of square dancing. Smithers explained there is no commitment like a formal lesson. The attendee does not need to retain anything because during the ABC Fun Dance Program, the dancers start over learning.

“It is dance, but you’re basically walking,” he said. “It’s not like you have to learn a lot of complicated steps like ballroom dancing. Anybody who can walk, can square dance.”

According to Smithers, square dancing could be a possible hobby for active-duty Soldiers and Families. Not only is it a social activity, it’s a wholesome one.

“I was in the Army for a little over 20 years, and I was raising a Family, but I was always gone. The Army kept me gone 75 percent of the time, and just about everywhere I went, there was usually very little to do,” he said. “ … geographic bachelors, but even single Soldiers, they tend to come up here to Fort Huachuca and the classes tend to be pretty long…whether they can bring their Family or not, it’s a nice activity for them to get involved in, because there is not only the social aspect, but [square dancing] is safe.”

Thunder Mountain Twirlers perform a square dance promenade. The group begins their “ABC Fun Dance Program” teaching the basics of square dancing Oct. 25.

He added that square dance clubs are located across the country and even throughout the world. He gave an example of one former Thunder Mountain Twirler member a third of the way through her formal square dance lessons when she needed to relocate for her job.

“I got online, I found a club, and I contacted the president and it turned out, they were at the same place in their lessons as we were here. She was at the lessons here one week, she moved out there the next week, and she started right up where she left off, and she had a whole family waiting for her,” Smithers said.

Once the ABC Fun Dance program ends Jan. 10, dancers are welcome to take the formal lessons, known as mainstream square dancing and the programs get more advanced from there. However, there is no pressure to advance to a particular level.

Dancers also learn “the language” of the calls. A call is a verbal cue that the caller gives that all the dancers know how to execute. They start in one particular formation and end in a different one.

The ABC Fun Dance program takes place each Friday from 6 to 7:30 p.m. The cost is $4 per adult each night but with two exceptions: first time attendees get in for free and those bringing someone new to the program both get in for free. Casual attire and comfortable shoes are recommended.

The program takes place at Sierra Vista Lutheran Church “Fellowship Hall,” 101 N. Lenzner Ave. For more information, email svtmt@cox.net or call 227.7085.




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