By Dave Brown
My past two articles concentrated on bringing in new dancers. This month, however, I would like to share how I personally became involved in this great activity, hopefully giving you additional ideas when you are inclined to ask someone to join us.
First, I would like to explain the word “Feel”. This is an emotional state of thinking. “I feel good!” I feel good while I participate in the activity of Square Dancing. It is ”My Happy Place,” as stated by one dancer, and I agree. I am so busy while dancing, that I forget the problems of my day. I learned this quickly as I enjoyed dancing with friends. Add in the excitement and satisfaction of completing a series of moves or calls to a left allemande, there is just nothing better than being in “My Happy Place.”
As my personality goes, I look forward to the touch that Square Dancing has to offer by the people I consider friends. (see last month’s article) Touch comes in different forms, not just the physical touch of eight people in a square exchanging hands with synergistic movements of cooperation for an exhilarating experience. (now there’s a mouthful!) There is also the social touch which occurs by coming into close proximity, not necessarily physical touch, with other people, as well as exchanging thoughts and experiences from different dances, clubs and callers.
As one learns the art of Square Dancing, a sense of accomplishment builds. As your skill level rises and friendships develop, confidence and self worth rises. Think about when you first came into Square Dancing. How did you feel? (that word again) You were probably a little lost not realizing the possibilities of family you were coming into.
I was brought up on a farm and didn’t get out much socially, well… basically none while growing up. Needless to say, my social skills were not developed beyond the farm. As a result, I was very withdrawn. Not too many people know that in High School, I was voted the most shy male in my class. As a Junior in High School, a girl friend offered to pick me up to attend the club class by the Poly Twirlers at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and we learned to Square Dance.
I was introduced to “Touch” in a way that I had never experienced before. THIS WAS FUN! I was bitten by the bug and attended the various dances within the county in the early 70’s where I was able to accelerate the development of my social skills while my self-confidence grew. Wow! What the perfect dating atmosphere!
Encouragement to learn to call came from a Lady caller, Peggy Rentz, at the Square Pegs Square Dance Club. By my Senior year, I was learning to call. After my High School graduation, the caller at that time left the Poly Twirlers, and I was able to step in and become the caller for the club.
Now, I’m not saying that everyone should become a caller, but it should be noted, many a dancer experienced the same social builders as I have with very positive results.
There were enough clubs at that time to have two to choose from every day/night of the week. It was not uncommon to dance continuously for two or three months in a row for me. That was every day, 60 to 90 or more days in a row! Growing up and coming from the farm, I must have been craving the social touch that only Square Dancing could give. To this day, I have many friendships that I visit as a result of my time involved from that era.
I talk about “Touch” here, and in past articles to let you in on what seems to be a well kept secret of our activity. Most people on the outside seem to relate to Square Dancing as an activity that they cannot do, rather than the opportunity to develop long lasting relationships that satisfy our needs to “Touch Someone.” In my article on “Touch, Experience It!” (http://callerdave.com/articles/touch-experience-it/) I attempt to explain how to recruit using this concept.
Because of political correctness, please refrain from using the word “touch” in your recruitment conversation, knowing that your prospect, while learning to Square Dance, will discover when touched physically and socially, that this is where they will want to be.
Hello … Peggy Rentz was my Grand Aunt… she was a hoot… I miss her so very much . My Grandmother and her were Sisters… I can remember as a little girl loving to look at all her dresses
I would love to hear from you!
Peggy Rentz gave me my start in calling square dances.
My first “Sing Call” was Houston. “Going Back to Houston”
I think I still have audio of my first time up to the mic.
A guy at the time, named Sammy Free, recorded it for me and
handed me the cassette tape, of me and several other boys who
were asked to learn a song/dance for the hoedown.
Peggy sent me home with a record (Houstin on Wagon Wheel label)
and I remember practicing the calls and tune for the next week
for the big Sunday Hoedown. What a thrill! I have been at it ever since.
Jim and Peggy owned the Log Cabin just outside of town on
Broad Street near Tank Farm Road(San Luis Obispo).
Of course it has all changed now.
The last time I visited Jim and Peggy, they were in a
mobile home park between Arroyo Grande and Nipomo.
That was quite awhile ago.
Give me shout back when you can. Love to hear from you
and find out what happened to Jim and Peggy.
Hi Dave! I really enjoyed reading your article. My Grandma Peggy lived her passion at a time when female callers were far and few! My Grandpa Jim adored her.
I remember both quite well! They used to take me and a friend in her demo square often.
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