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By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter
On Saturday night inside of the Carter Memorial Church, a large group of beginner square dancers got to experience the unique excitement of a big Saturday night dance when the Great Plain Squares held their annual Snowflake Ball.
While many of the dancers had been taking classes and going to smaller Wednesday night dances since September, the Snowflake Ball has the energy and excitement of a heavily-populated Saturday night dance. And while Wednesday night dances are fun, people aren’t dressed in their square-dancing best, and the room isn’t decorated the way it is for the ball.
Great Plain Squares president Paul Howard explained how much more exciting a big dance is for the beginners, noting: “This is a class level dance, so these are people that started in September, and they’re already out there and they’re going to be dancing all night - and they’re going to have a blast. They’ve been dancing for three months now. There’s multiple levels in square dancing and they’re in the beginner level. A big dance is so much more invigorating because the energy of the crowd, people are much more excited, and we decorate the halls. We have snowflakes all over the place because it’s called the Snowflake Ball.”
Howard explained that the caller, Bob Butler, calls the Wednesday dances and checked in with the other local clubs to make sure they were learning the same things the people taking classes with the Great Plain Squares were, so that everyone could dance - no matter what club they belonged to. While the night featured both square dancing and round dancing, which Howard described as “choreographed ballroom dancing, because we do waltzes, foxtrots, two-steps and cha-chas, but the round dance cuer is saying two forward two-steps, vine to the left, vine to the right… so the cuer is giving us a step-by-step of what we should be doing, that way you don’t get on the floor and say ‘What should I be doing now?’”
Howard also explained the difference between this beginner level dance, and what one might see at a more advanced one.
“The level of the dancing is harder, so instead of doing do-si-do and circle left, we’re doing relay the deuce, spin chain the gears, and spin the top, so the moves are more complex than the lower level, which is why you keep going to class.”
One of the beginners at the Snowflake Ball was Bill Mackey, who only started square-dancing in September as “another way to get out of the house and spend time socializing.”
Mackey noted that he was surprised how many clubs there were in the square-dancing scene, and talked about how different a real dance was from the classes he’d been taking.
“I think it’s dancing with different people, dancing a real dance, I’m a beginner - I’m taking a class right now, but it’s really neat, really fun and not as challenging as I thought.”
Even though the beginner dancers, like Mackey, may still just be doing do-si-dos instead of spin-chaining the gears, they’ll get there. And if Saturday night’s Snowflake Ball is any indication, they’ll have a lot of fun on the way.