My Square Dancing Involvement
The photo is yours truly at the Shreveport, Louisiana Hamfest in 2016. Ham Radio is one of my other hobbies...for more information on that, click here. I was involved in square dancing before ham radio...but there are "dancing hams". In fact, having my ham radio license, helped me save the life of our shuttle bus driver at one of the National Square Dance Conventions years ago. My actual callsign is WX4QZ, but the callsign in the photo reflects my personal address. For correspondence related to The Modern Square, or to the ASSSDF, please use the email address at the bottom of this page.
My first exposure to what I thought was square dancing was back in elementary school over 50 years ago. It was part of the physical education class, and you had the same sex dancing together (boy-boy, girl-girl). When former caller, the late Craig Fletcher did a demo at an elementary school several years ago, this boy didn't want to dance with a girl. To him, she was poison, and full of "cooties" (grin!).
I was in for a shock the first night I got into class, in August, 1985, with the Maverick Mixers of Little Rock. My late parents, J.D. and Betty Stout, had gotten into the hobby 2 1/2 years before I did...and I regret that I didn't get into the hobby sooner. Anyway, the first night of lessons, all these women I didn't know (single and married) were giving me yellowrocks (hugs) -- and I thought to myself "What have I gotten myself into??!!". But, after graduation in December, 1985, it was like Next, please!!" (I got to like the hugs (LOL!!)).
Over a year later, I wanted to learn Advanced dancing, so I joined the former Jo-Car Squares club, named for the late caller Joe Borengasser, and his late first wife, Carol. Joe had told me that "you need to have danced Plus for a full year (which is what the Maverick Mixers danced), or know your moves like the back of your hand, or you'll never survive Advanced"....he was right. Sadly, with many changes over the years, I would have to go back through lessons to dance that level again. Yet, as the late caller J.D. Kerr noted, "I don't need Plus, Advanced, and Challenge to call a good dance"...and he did with just "Definition Mainstream".
For the record, round dancing never did appeal to me. Yet, I needed a break between tips, so as to not get overheated. I will admit that it's pretty and graceful...but my health won't let me do as much on the dance floor as I used to. In fact, I do not "swing", and only do the "back to back do-si-do", as the "swinging do-si-do" and the "swing" make me dizzy. While an exception for the swing may be done during lessons (because it's slower), I am unable to do likewise during a regular dance.
Anyway, back in the mid-1980's and early 1990's, square and round dancing in Arkansas was much bigger than it was in early 2020. Back then, you could dance every night of the week in Little Rock, at a different level each night. Now, only 2 clubs remain....the Maverick Mixers, and the Twirling Lariats. In 1990, I was a member of 5 area clubs...the Maverick Mixers, the Jo-Car Squares, the Rock-N-Saw Squares, the Motivators, and the North Little Rock affiliate of Bachelors 'N Bachelorettes, International....and Club Reporter for all of them, except for the Motivators (although I could've done a report if the club wanted to). I'm still Club Reporter and Chaplain for the Maverick Mixers.
I attended the National Square Dance Convention each year from 1986 to 2002, and attended several of the Labor Day Dance-A-Rama events for Single Square Dancers USA over the years. But, with declining health and financial issues, attendance to those now is virtually non-existant. With overtime at work, and getting married in 2003, my square dance involvement was limited to taking the National Squares and The Modern Square publications. Even though my wife wanted to learn it, health concerns put a damper on that. Tragically, she passed away 3 weeks shy of my 4th wedding anniversary in 2007, and I never remarried. In July, 2007, I found out that North Little Rock was hosting the 2007 Single Square Dancers USA Labor Day Dance-A-Rama, and I got back into dancing...but I just "worked" at that weekend.
In early 2008, I became Webmaster and Circulation Chairman for the ASSDF, and am still doing such as of late 2019...as "you can always get dancers...you can't always get workers". I had problems getting the original website moved over, as the original webmaster, the late Joyce Taylor died several years ago. With my HTML knowledge being very basic, the website was such until late 2019...when I used some of the money I had saved for a train trip to a ham radio event (which I had to cancel), to hire Zooma Design, LLC to get this fancy version of the website. I also set up a feed on Twitter (search for ASSDF), and have links to it, and our Facebook Page at the top of this page, and on the original website. With the former Jamboree USA and Let's Dance square and round dance weekends in Pine Bluff, Arkansas years ago, I was also their webmaster.
In late 2019, I was elected as Editor for The Modern Square. I've had journalism in high school and college...doing club reports...and proofreading, working with silkscreen printing, all for over 40 years. I had never done desktop publishing, but was willing to try anything once. So, it has been a learning experience for me, and just like with dancing, you're never done learning. And, I'm enjoying the jobs!!
Lastly, I did some "amateur calling" years ago, but health and financial concerns won't let me do it again...and it's not as easy as it looks!! Plus, I can "screw up a square" with the best of them...as caller Ed Foote aptly noted "You broke down smoothly!!".