“There Is Much More to Square Dancing Than Square Dancing”
The occasion was the Copy Cats annual Summer Picnic at the Arboretum
on Schlagle Road in Webster. Irma is shown here together with Ron
Brown, our friend since 1990 when we became “recycled
dancers” with the Wayne Westerners where Ron was early in his
calling/teaching career, a career that has now brought hundreds,
perhaps even thousands of square dancing friends together. Also
pictured with us is Nancy Simmons. Happily, Nancy and Rick Simmons,
current co-presidents of the Copy Cats, are included in that number,
as are literally hundreds of others in places around central New York
where Ron’s magic tonsils and teaching expertise,
bring this extraordinarily healthy and happy dimension to our lives.
And yes, that is a cane that Irma is holding. Her complete knee-replacement two years ago has proven problematic, and worsening. We now hope for restorative surgery to correct the problem, and still hope to return to dancing; but many prayers must be answered to make that happen.
I did get to dance one tip with long-time-friend Dee Wickman after the program that included games in the afternoon, a great meal, a fashion show, and Jim Gotta calling.
Richard La Donna forced me to not show a full picture of him in his wedding gown, so I acquiesced, and only show this socially acceptable portion.
Also accepting kudos are other hard-to-recognize (fortunately for some) very talented Copy Cat thespians.
Well, that’s enough of that, and with my apologies to those not included; however, our thanks for a hilarious interlude between cleaning up and dancing.
We arrived at three in the afternoon and hotly contested games were already in progress as shown. Actually the games were for the most part quietly progressing amid conversations of family and sharing summer experiences; simply sharing “life” as good friends do. One is not a dancer very long before the realization that the following “definition of dancing” is in fact true: “Square Dancing is Friendship put to Music”! True, True, True … we have life-long loving relationships that we treasure with our square dance friends. Observe.
I like to focus on faces, as they are the truest evidence of the elation of what one is experiencing. Note how the the focus of the faces shift when presented with a situation when tough decisions have to be made: Eating! Faced with more food than one could possible eat … well true for at least some of us. What would you decide on? … One shot is from the beginning, the other is from the ending: Note the plates and the faces in between.
One gets the impression that eating is serious business! … and
it is! Make wise choices in all that you do, with only an occasional
excess for those “special occasions,” that there always
seem to be too many of in our precious summer times.
By the time you read this, and hopefully enjoy the pictures, we will be back into the fall season, when square dance clubs all over in our area will be promoting our beloved activity … somehow the myriad benefits of this “life-extending” activity seem to be the best kept secret in the world! And, what we are doing here is a sort of missionary work: Why should we be the only people having all the fun! It is only because of the great love we have for our sisters and brothers that are somehow outside looking in.
Join us! As you can see elsewhere in the Promenader, there are clubs all over, and great callers like Ron, and Mike, and Dave, to name just a few locally that pop into my head right now, are just waiting to tell you: “OK, square up. Say ‘Hi’ to your corner … let’s have some fun!”
Banner Stealing Guidelines - Updated!
Banner stealing is a great way for dancers from different clubs to get
acquainted and for clubs to support one another by increasing
attendance at regular dances.
In our area, banner raids were popular for many years but died out when too few clubs could muster enough raiders or retrievers to support it. However, news of a recent raid in Batavia by the Copy Cats indicates this lively tradition is being revived. So, we thought now would be a good time to remind everyone how Banner Stealing works. It’s not a sneak attack; The “thieves” come in, pay their door fees, socialize and dance; A banner changes hands; Nobody gets hurt.
Here’s how it works:
1) Since not all clubs are able to support Banner Stealing, clubs interested in participating should register with the Rochester Area Federation (email to firstname.lastname@example.org), where a list will be maintained online on the “FEDERATION” page. Registered clubs should also have at least one “Traveling Banner” available to be stolen.
2) To steal a banner, the “Stealing” club must bring at least four couples who pay the visitors’ fee at the “Host” club’s dance. Exception: Smaller and less mobile clubs may meet the “four couples” level by either (a) including up to two “allied” couples (from other clubs than the Host club), or (b) by prior agreement with the Host club, accumulating any combination of smaller “serial raids” that add up to four couples over a three-month period. Remember, the spirit here is to encourage dancers to get around to other clubs, so actually, any arrangement that works for both clubs is fine!
3) A representative of the Stealing club must advise the Host club’s president at least 48 hours in advance. If more than one club is planning to steal the same club’s banner, then the first club to notify the Host club takes precedence.
4) To actually earn the right to take home the banner, the raiding party must demonstrate its dancing abilities — and its good humor — to the Host club in a demonstration tip of the Host caller’s choice. In the case of serial small raids, it’s up to the Hosts and raiders to agree on a suitable demonstration of skill and good will. Exceptionally large raiding parties of eight couples or more have been known to return home with the Host caller’s shirt, but naturally this would have to be arranged in advance with the Host club.
5) It is the responsibility of the Stealing Club to safeguard the stolen banner, display it at their club dances and return it only to its owner club.
6) To retrieve a stolen banner, the owner club must bring at least four paying couples to a dance hosted by the Stealing club. Stealing the new Host’s banner at the same time, requires an additional four paying couples, and 48-hour advanced notification to the new Host club president. (Exceptions for smaller clubs can be arranged with club leadership, as noted above.)
7) If a banner has not been retrieved within a reasonable time (three months of the dance season), the Stealing club is allowed to bring it back to its owner club, with up to four couples admitted as non-paying guests. The owner club’s president shall be notified at least a week in advance of the planned return.
8) Banner stealing and retrieving are restricted to regular scheduled club dances only. Special dances with a guest caller are subject to approval in advance by the Host club’s president.
Moving Out to Mike Callahan
Every “A” dancer within a hundred miles of Rochester N.Y. knows that Mike Callahan’s Shamrock Squares dance year-round, every Tuesday night at the Pieters Family Life Center near the intersection of 15A and Jefferson Road. Yes, there are regular members that drive that far, summer and winter, just to be counted among the smiling faces you are about to see in the pictures I am including here. And just to make a point, although no longer, “regular dancers” here, Ron and Judy Giuliana, of Pittsburg, P.A., never miss a Tuesday if they can possibly make it, and being longtime friends with Charley and Dale Nientimp, that seems to happen pretty often. It was my good fortune to have Judy as my corner, twice! … making it a very special evening for me, and that is in addition to this being Mike and Wanda’s “Ice-Cream-Social” night, where this wonderful couple that give so much of themselves to us, also supply the ice cream and all the makings for “roll-your-own” sundaes, hmmnn! Or is that sundies??? OK, no matter how you spell it, they were great, with fresh strawberries, nuts and various syrups, Awesome!. Thank you Mike and Wanda.
Of course with Irma sidelined with her yet to be solved
“structurally defective” knee, I had many opportunities to
take pictures, but I did get to dance twice with Ruth Phillips when
“Hubby Ted” graciously decided to talk to Irma, while I got
to see if I remembered all of the intricate calls that keep our minds
and bodies healthy and active, even as some of us approach what our
“senior children” would call “old age”! That
point was brought home to me when our 63-year-old son asked
me: “When were you born?” Of course he knew the answer to
be 1929, and said: “If you were born before 1930, you are
That may be technically true, but I purposely took a picture that included at least two people that enjoy birthdays before 21 July, 1929, my birthday! … and I know for a fact that neither Shirley Dickerson, nor Shirley Atwell are any more ashamed to admit it than I am; rather we are in fact proud that we can still dance at this high level, with no limiting mental or physical encumbrances … and with all of us pointing to square dancing as the enabling common denominator.
Irma and I met the Dickersons and the Atwells in the
early 1990s when we joined the Southern Tier Wheelers, our
square dance camping club that still dances in the Southern Tier of
our beautiful New York State. Of course then both of these ladies
still enjoyed having their partners (Dick Dickerson and Bob Atwell) to
enjoy this wonderful activity with. Sadly, square dancing has
not proven a conqueror of the “Big C,” and some other
lethal aging agents; however, because we all love each other, the
format of dancing accommodates “Singles,” or as many chose
to be called, “Solos.”
Most dancing at the “A” (Advanced), level is, “by the numbers”: When you sign in at the Shamrock Squares, and pay your either $12 as a couple, or $6 as a single, you are given a number, typically the line number that you signed in on, and although the first and last “tips” (squares), are in an open format where you all square-up as you wish, all the other squares are assigned. Say if you signed in on line 16, that would be your number, and Wanda, by sliding her big cursor progressively along on her square assignment board; a quick glance reveals to everyone their square assignment. Typically the club has three to six squares, all with assigned positions on the floor. Singles or “Solos” are paired as squares so that everyone gets to dance; perhaps not every tip, but there are no “wall flowers” never dancing.
Part of the beauty of “A” dancing is that everyone knows all the moves from every position: meaning “Guy” or “Gal,” or more technically correct at “A”: “Belles or Beaus.” Notice in the picture of Nancy Platt and Joan Powers, that Nancy is wearing a BOY sign; (yea, like who is going to believe that!); however, this helps solve the partner problem if there do not happen to be a balancing number of male singles … and the BOY sign also helps prevent confusion in active squares, and especially those with less experienced dancers. Thanks to excellent dancers like Nancy, there are rarely wanting solo sideliners. If you follow the adventures of Tom and Joan Powers on Facebook, with Tom’s recent retirement, this beautiful couple can be found anywhere in the world where there are biking or hiking trails, or high adventure of any ilk!
There are times when a couple “Stands Static,” while
others are moving, which surprisingly enough, is one of the harder
things for new dancers to do. That is, don’t move until the
callers wants you to! Ron is obviously stepping right out to catch up
with his momentary new partner, Dale Nientimp’s expectant
hand. In square dancing, your “partner” is always the
person next to you, and that can change quickly! As an example,
consider doing the center part of Load the Boat. In a tight square,
your “partner” can change three times in three steps!
I hope I have not created the impression that “A” Dancing is a form of “geriatric dancing”; that is definitely not the case. The music and the beat that it is danced to is exactly the same as for Basic, Mainstream and Plus; however, having said that, there is much less swinging and twirling,” and especially when contrasted with high energy “singing calls” danced at the entry, intermediate and Plus levels. At Mike’s, our format usually includes only one “singing call,” paired with one of the later calls in our evening of dancing. Here everyone is sensitive to the fact that for more mature dancers, moves requiring raising the arms high above the head can be painful, difficult, or impossible for some. Even at Mainstream and Plus I seem to see more “Don’t Twirl” signs. For me, if it is offered, I take it; if it is not, I don’t … and it is easy to tell. The same with swinging; I love it, but it is not for everyone.
Most Basic, Mainstream and Plus Dance formats routinely are in a 2 X 2 format. That means each tip would include a hash tip and a singing call, followed by two Rounds: a lower level Round such as a Phase II or III, and then a somewhat higher level, perhaps a III, IV or V, depending upon the club, as would be the predominant clubs in the square dancing Meccas of the world, such as The Valley in Texas, Mesa, A.Z., or many clubs in Florida, such as the Strawberry Squares.
Here at Mike’s, we are all happy to just take a five-minute break between tips and amuse ourselves by simple things, like all crossing our legs in unison, and on cue, reversing the cross. Notice in the following series of pictures how much fun Dale has in doing just this.
But, mostly we just come to dance, and we enjoy the camaraderie of being with
people we have come to love, and getting enough healthy exercise, both
mental and physical, to make of us a happy people.
Enjoy the remaining pictures.
Then imagine (picture), yourself being with us! … and then take the steps necessary to do it. Love you all.
The Myth About Advanced Square Dancing
There is a myth among square dancers! I have heard it myself! The
myth says that once a dancer “moves up” to the Advanced
level they no longer have an interest in dancing with the Plus
dancers. And that dancers at the Advanced level NEVER smile and are
not having any fun! I would like to dispel that myth!
For the first part, the truth is not so much that they no longer have an interest in dancing with the Plus dancers, but rather that they are not able to do so. Some dancers learn the higher levels of square dancing, both Advanced and Challenge, because they are easier physically than dancing at the Plus level. In the Advanced and Challenge Levels of dancing you do not see as much twirling and swinging as is customary at the Plus level.
In the past, mainly the older dancers went on to Advanced and Challenge level dancing because, if they were no longer physically able to do the swinging and twirling, they were still able to enjoy their beloved square dancing by switching to these levels.
However, that is not so much the case today. Many of us enjoy dancing Advanced calls (myself included) and/or Challenge calls, yet still love to dance Plus and swing and twirl. I enjoy having the choice when I go to a festival of dancing in the Plus Hall or the Advanced Hall. I often alternate between them. I know of several square dance friends who dance all three levels and alternate among them as well. I find that Advanced is more mentally challenging for me while Plus is more physically challenging. Sometimes I want one and other times I want the other!
As for the second part of the myth that says Advanced dancers are no fun … they are much too serious. If you believe that, I challenge you to attend a dance at your local Advanced club or visit the Advanced hall at one of the festivals. You will soon find out that we have just as much fun and laugh at ourselves just as much if not more than the Plus level dancers!
So what is Advanced and Challenge square dancing? It is merely more calls added on to the ones you already know from Basic through Mainstream and Plus. There are about 50 calls on the Basic list, 17 more on the Mainstream list, and 30 more on the Plus list. There are approximately 50 more calls on the A1 list, 36 on the A2 list, and many more on the Challenge lists.
Do we still dance the Basic, Mainstream, and Plus calls when dancing Advanced or Challenge? Absolutely! Remember when you learned Plus? Not every single move that is called is a Plus level call. They are interspersed with the Basic and Mainstream calls, but adding Plus calls just makes it more interesting and adds to the enjoyment. The same is true at the higher levels.
So if you have been dancing at Plus level for a few years and feel very comfortable with the Plus calls, the next time you go to a festival and you see an “Intro to Advanced Workshop” on the agenda … give it a try! You might find that you enjoy the challenge of learning some new material. If you don’t plan to go to any festivals in the near future, but think you’d like to try it, contact one of our local callers to learn about the Advanced workshops in our area.
Circle of Service Award Presented to Russ and Ruth Uhrenholdt
The Circle of Service Award is part of a national program to honor
dancers who have, over an extended period of time, unselfishly
volunteered their time and talents to the benefit and promotion of
square dancing. Recipients are dancers who have contributed service in
many ways to square and round dancing in their community, both at the
club level, and within the Federation.
Quoting from the official history of the award, as printed in the August 1997 edition of “Grapevine” (a publication of the Northeast Florida Square and Round Dancers Association, Inc.): The Circle of Service itself “is a symbol of service to square and round dancing. It is designed to be worn with pride by dancers who, for three or more years, are determined to have made a significant contribution to the Square and Round Dance movement. Those presenting the Circle must have themselves been recipients of the award at an earlier date. Through this method of presenting the honor, it was felt that the Circle would gradually spread throughout the dance activity, thus honoring and recognizing many whose accomplishments have for so long gone unrewarded.”
Sally Baechle noted, “It’s an honor to give Russ and Ruth Uhrenholdt the Circle of Service Award for years of dedication to Silver Squares and the Federation.”
Russ and Ruth were presidents of Silver Squares from 2002–2004. They have been federation representatives for over 10 years. They are in charge of decorations for the club and produce flyers to promote the Silver Squares club. They can be counted on to help out whenever needed.
The Federation Website
Did you ever wonder how the Federation website
(squaredancingrochester.org) is constructed? The website currently
lists over 4,000 past and future dances, over 300 flyers, several
years of club news and articles, as well as other generally useful
information. For a quick overview of the website you can look at the
structured sitemap where all of the
useful pages are immediately accessible. A complete directory and file list is
To enable fast loading of web pages, all web pages are pure HTML. All linking and formatting is done beforehand so the web pages are small. All images are reduced in resolution (to 500 pixels wide) so that they load faster.
Numerous reporters and proofreaders are involved in creating and proofreading content before it goes up on the web. The Ludwicks contribute artistic suggestions and artwork, Dick Halstead contributes “Roving Reporter” articles, others contribute articles, clubs contribute schedules and club news, and others contribute suggestions and content for various parts of the website.
To keep track of everything, all of the dances, articles, flyers etc. are stored in a database and, when changes are made to this database, a program is run that regenerates the entire website. This enables dances to be sorted by caller, club, day of week etc. — it all happens automatically. Since everything (except flyers and pictures) is in a database, facts are entered once so there will be no inconsistencies. Also, modifying the look of the database is fairly straightforward.
The entire website is created from a master database. A program reads this database and generates almost all of the pages of the website in about 10 seconds. Updates to the website are made by modifying this database and then recreating the website. Most changes are made by changing only a few table entries. Then the changed pages are uploaded to the website. Changes to a dance event are made in one place and the creation process puts the appropriate listings for this event on all of the appropriate web pages. No commercial software is used.
For the more technical minded — the database is sqlite3 and it is accessed by means of specially written Java code. One Java program is used to edit the database, another is used to create the website, another is used to discover changed files, and another is used to find “funny” characters in submissions. Changed files are uploaded to the website using WinSCP, a file transfer program. These programs can be run on Windows, Apple, or Linux platforms.
Dance schedules and flyers are put up on the web when they are received.
Four times a year a call for club news and articles goes out and the received material is placed on a limited-access “sandbox” part of the website. Then a team of proofreaders goes to work finding grammar mistakes and spelling errors and rephrasing the material if necessary to be more clear. Anyone can submit articles and everyone is encouraged to do so.
Once the club news, articles, president’s message, and editor’s message have been proofread (and the beginning of the month is near) this content is moved to the current part of the website.
Currently Jim Gotta and myself are the gurus who understand how all of the machinery works. If anyone else is interested in becoming a “webmaster” contact me and you, too, can be taught the secret handshake, secret passwords etc. and one day become the master of the website.
Cloverleaf’s Summer Fun
Summer fun at the Cloverleafs included back-to-back dances at the
Henrietta Fire Hall in July.
On Saturday, July 16, we enjoyed an evening with national caller Ron Reardon, from Zephyrhills, Florida. This Mainstream dance (with a little Plus tossed in) filled the floor with nine squares of happy dancers. The club hopes to have Ron back next year for another rousing time.
On the following evening, with Jim Gotta calling, we held our
“Boots and Shorts” dance. As you can see from the photos,
everyone had a great time and there was a wide variety in both
Our round dancers enjoyed the cueing of Alice Bubel both nights.
I received a phone call from Ron Brown about the subject of music licenses that the Federation and all callers and cuers should know about.
Three bars in Auburn, NY have been approached by ASCAP and SEZAC (a European music licensing company) and threatened with fines because the bands that were playing did not have music licenses. The article is on the internet if you care to read it (click HERE).
Callers who belong to Callerlab or the ACA have music licenses from BMI and ASCAP permitting them to use the music. I believe that cuers get their licenses from Roundalab. SEZAC is a European company that Callerlab has also contacted about getting a license for their members and I believe that Callerlab is negotiating with them at this point.
It behooves ALL Federation clubs to make sure that their callers and cuers have proper up to date music licenses, and it behooves all callers and cuers to make sure that their licenses are current. The clubs could face hefty fines from music licensing companies if they book a caller/cuer with no license or an expired one.
In Memoriam: Will Minges, July 12, 2016
Will was a long-time dancer at Silver Squares. In the early years he
was treasurer for a year and president. Always a friendly guy, he
welcomed everyone and became a special friend of Arlene Driscoll.
They came to most of the Silver Squares’ dances and did lots of
things together. Several times they took trips together. One time
they drove to West Virginia to visit Will’s daughters. And once
they drove to Illinois for one of Will’s family matters.
Will has five children and many grandchildren. Will was a proud veteran of the United States Army.
We certainly will miss Will as he was a very faithful dancer with Silver Squares. He was usually at our board meetings and he always closed our meetings with: “So where are we going to eat?” We will miss his good humor and ready smile.
In Memoriam: Tim Marriner, August 29, 2016
We note with great sadness the passing of Tim Marriner, one of the
truly greats among us in the Wonderful World of Square Dancing. Tim
had been doing a calling weekend in Canada, and returned home to Rock
Hill, S.C. in the wee hours of the morning, where he and his beautiful
wife Donna enjoyed their sea-side retreat. Sometime shortly after
returning, Tim suffered a massive heart attack and passed from this
mortality, to his new calling in the eternal kingdom of Our Creator.
Tim’s home in Rock Hill, S.C., was not far from Myrtle Beach, and as a consequence, Irma and I got to dance with him often. He always seemed to remember Irma’s name, as I am sure he did many; a hallmark of many great callers. I took the introductory picture above of him two winters ago at a big dance in Myrtle Beach.
Tim actually started calling on a dare in 1973 during an Amateur Night. That’s all it took; he soon had his own club, and by October of 1987 he was a full-time professional caller, touring extensively across the United States, and had standing dates in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Norway and Sweden! Of course he was on staff at various resorts, and had a recording contract with ESP Records.
Tim was a member of the Metrolina Callers and Cuers Association; an accredited member of CALLERLAB, serving on the Board of Directors Executive Committee and was a past chairman.
You might wish to offer your condolences and remembrances to his wife, Donna Marriner, at PO Box 37178, Rock Hill, SC 29732. I include a picture of Tim with his wife Donna. You might wish to remember happy times you shared, for Tim was not just a caller, he was a true entertainer, with so many “twists” to his singing routines, probably as a result of his belonging to several Jazz choirs in college, that he always added that something extra to your evening of enjoyment, making them memorable … even into Eternity!
And should you be so inclined, as I certainly will be shortly as I wrap this up, and end my evening in thankful prayer, I will be thanking God for blessing my life with the friendship of this special child of His, that He has now called home; certain in the knowledge that his work has now just truly begun.