Square dancing great for ‘exercise, fun’

Huber Heights group looks to engage young people.

Ron and Joyce Whisler joined the Huber Heights Square Dance Club more than a decade ago. “Some people at our church invited us to try it, we got involved and really enjoyed it,” said Ron.

“It takes a while to learn it – there are three levels of the Western-style classes, each level building on the previous one, with calls becoming more complex,” explained the 88-year-old. Just like the dancers, callers take training and calls are basically the same throughout the different states and countries.

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“Members of each club in a region visit other club dances. Our club meets at Sulphur Grove United Methodist Church on Taylorsvile Road; and our dances are attended by dancers from clubs in the local area, like Kettering, Springfield and Yellow Springs, and some even further away. While some dancers come in Western-style clothing, many just wear comfortable dance clothing.”

Although the couple hasn’t attended dances since the pandemic, the Huber Heights club (commonly called the Double H Square Dance Club) and others in the Miami Valley are gearing up to begin new beginner classes this month.

“It’s important to teach young people since we’re down in numbers. When we joined, round dancing, line dancing and square dancing were all popular.”

Another Huber Heights member, Karen Townley and her husband, Greg, started taking classes in 2011. “I retired that year, and when I told my husband it would be good exercise to music, he agreed.

“We started taking some of the round dancing classes, then square dancing. Our club has about 35 members, ranging in age from 10-to-90s, and we have families, one with three teens who are full-fledged dancers.

“We were going out two-to-three times a week before the pandemic, but since then, we just go now and then, hoping to do more. ... We wore masks, but it’s difficult to dance with masks on.”

Townley represents the Huber Heights Club on the Miami Valley Council, and noted that “every club holds a dance once a month up to three times a month; people from other clubs come, and we go to others.”

And attending other clubs’ dances isn’t limited to neighboring clubs. “Our son’s in Chicago, and when we visit, we go to a club there,” said Townley. “When we’re in Florida visiting my brother, we go to his club’s dances.

“There’s a website that will bring up all the clubs where you can go to dance, in any area and all over the world.

“Every May, the state holds a square dance convention, and we’ve also been to three national conventions, where we’ve danced with people who’ve come from other countries.”

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According to Whisler, “Square dance is an American dance form — Henry Ford was a big proponent — and the calls all over the world are the same and all in English.

“Square dancing is a great activity for exercise and fun,” he said. Beginners’ classes will be held at Sulphur Grove Church on Tuesday evenings from 7 to 9, and those classes started Sept. 13. The first night is free and then $3 a night for the following Tuesdays. Classes are for ages 11 and up. For more information, contact Ron and Joyce Whisler, (937) 233-6897.

“Many clubs in the Miami Valley Dance Council are offering lessons right now,” added Townley. “The list may be viewed at MiamiValleyDanceCouncil.org under the tab ‘Lessons Available’.” In addition to Square dancing, Folk, Round, Polka, Scottish, Terpsichorean (Greek) and Contra lessons are being offered through different clubs.

Contact this writer at virgburroughs@gmail.com

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