West Kelowna  

It's hip to be square

Back in September they knew little about today’s style of square dancing. By mid-December, the new square dancers at the Westsyde Squares dance club had completed the curriculum and were ready to enjoy their new hobby.

The 10 newcomers celebrated along with the rest of the club at an evening dance and graduation ceremony on Dec. 12 – complete with diplomas and mortarboard caps – in the hall at the Westbank United Church.

Judy Syvenky of West Kelowna enjoyed her new dancing experience saying, “we’ve had so much fun and made new friends while learning lots of new steps.”

Kelowna resident Candace Suderman echoed those sentiments.

“It’s a wonderful experience and I met many new friends.”

At a typical event, the dance can become the athletic equivalent of walking several kilometres, a fact not lost on Dianne Tucker of Kelowna who says: “It’s great exercise – it’s good for the heart – I really enjoy it – it’s just so much fun.”

A pot-luck supper opened the event, with live dinner music by West Kelowna’s 21-year old Dustin McGifford and his guitar, one of the club’s two square dance callers. The dancing was lively and the club’s semi-professional caller, Barry Sjolin of Penticton, praised the new dancers for having learned so well. The holiday season made the event especially festive with lots of seasonal colours on the dance floor.

The club includes round dancing in their regular program, which is choreographed ballroom dancing. Regine Anderson of Penticton leads the round dances as a “cuer.” At one point, the two callers sang excellent background harmony while Anderson entertained with a holiday tune.

Just for fun, the newcomers were tested with a mock written “exam” where they had to identify particular dance moves through hints provided by often-humorous photos or drawings. A break halfway through the night saw the newcomers presented one-by-one with grad caps, diplomas and a handbook. Later, a cleverly-decorated graduation cake was served up as a closing snack.

Having just finished instructing adults, McGifford is now looking forward to the launch of a new pre-teen and teen square dance club in mid-January. It will be called the Westside Youth Team Dance Club, and starts Jan. 15 with a free session at the hall in the Westbank United Church.

The free introductory session for kids, from 6 to 7:30 p.m., is intended to give them and their parents a sample of the fun.

Weekly Tuesday sessions will continue until April. The suggested starting age is 8 years, although younger children may also be welcomed.

An adequate attention span is the main criteria because the children will learn an accelerated dance program with a high energy level.

For more information, visit the new youth club’s website.

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