Among the social recreations available to residents of the Okanagan, square dancing has endured and active dance clubs can be found in all the larger cities. In the North Okanagan, along with a club in Vernon, Enderby boasts its very own group and they’re expanding.
Every Friday, the Enderby River Dancers open their doors at 6 p.m. for new square dancer sessions at the Seniors Centre hall, 1101 Highway 97A.
“Newcomers to today’s style of square dancing are in for a great experience,” said club president, Bob Byrne of Vernon. “The modernized dance form presents uplifting music ranging from pop to country and show tunes to golden oldies. All ages, families and singles are welcomed in casual attire.
“The benefits of learning to square dance are many. For starters, we price it economically yet you get a premium value in terms of a mild aerobic activity that also exercises the mind and brings new friends.”
And it’s easy to learn, according to young caller-teacher, Allan Peterson of Salmon Arm.
“You simply have to walk to the beat of the music — there are no complicated steps,” he said.
Peterson said his prime goal is to make the sessions lots of fun but he also strives to make his dancers feel successful.
“Through patience, clarity of instruction and lots of review, I can help everyone master the calls,” he said.
The square dance calls come from an internationally-standardized list that’s taught in English worldwide.
“A square dancer can attend dances in countries like Japan or Germany and participate quite comfortably,” he said.
The dance club equally enjoys another dance form called “round dancing” for which lessons are also offered. It’s choreographed ballroom dancing including two-steps and waltzes, set to a particular piece of music, where couples take direction from a “cuer.” Nobody leads and there are no routines to memorize. The dancers progress in a large circle around the dance floor to each sequence that the cuer announces over the mike. Cueing round dances is the specialty of Peterson’s wife, Laura, who is anxious that newcomers also consider round dance instruction at the same location on the same night.
The River Dancers have already planned a graduation bash for April, where not only their newly-accomplished square dancers can attend but also newcomers from throughout the Okanagan and Shuswap.
“Coffee’s always on,” said Byrne.
For more information, contact Dianne Peters at 250-838-9445 or EnderbyRiverDancers@yahoo.com or see www.RiverDancers.squaredance.bc.ca