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By Robby McKittrick
Hometown Weekly Reporter
On Wednesday, September 12, the Great Plain Squares held their annual square dance event for new prospective dancers. Large groups of men and women filled the room at 7 p.m. for a fun night of laughter, chatting, and, of course, square-dancing.
Once everyone arrived, the participants split into four different groups of eight people each. There were around 10 new prospective dancers in the room, and they were divided up among the four groups. After the groups each formed a circle, longtime caller Bob Butler took charge.
Butler began with teaching a couple of basic “calls,” such as the “promenade” and the “do-si-do,” and off they went. After about 45 minutes of instruction and practice, and after Butler added other moves like the “right and left grand” and the “courtesy turn,” the group seemed to be getting the hang of it.
“It’s been terrific,” said newcomer Bob Neckert during a break in the dancing. “Everybody is so friendly, and so accepting, and so understanding, and patient. It’s been great. [My daughter and I] are going to sign up and do it the whole time.”
“It actually has been fun,” said another new dancer. “I’m surprised. I didn’t really want to come.”
Butler has been a square-dance caller for more than 30 years, and he has worked for the Great Plain Squares for over half of that time. Butler explained why he enjoys being a caller.
“I like how you take people who have never square danced before, and don’t know anything about square dancing, and by the end of the night they are actually dancing,” said Butler. “I love to teach.”
The Great Plain Squares have approximately 50 members in their group who appear to be ages 50 to 70 or older. The members are all in the group because they simply enjoy square-dancing.
“I love it,” said Paul Howard, who has been with the organization since 1976. “It’s so much fun … It’s good for the brain, and it’s good for the body.”
“It’s great for your mind,” the group president, Ruth Orenstein, added. “It’s just a wonderful way to relax and get exercise at the same time.”
Although the group has many skilled square-dancers, Orenstein explained that this particular event is for the new members.
“We have a number of beginners here,” Orenstein said. “That’s what tonight is all about. We teach you what you need to know. We have you dancing right away.”
The Great Plain Squares are hoping to receive new members who are willing to commit every Wednesday night.
“The lifeblood of any organization is getting new people,” said Howard. “We got a decent turnout [tonight], and hopefully some of these people will stay and become lifelong square dancers.”