Members of B.C.’s Star Twirlers demonstrate their footwork as they follow the caller’s direction in a lively square dance. (File)

New Sooke dance classes a do-si-do affair

Square dancing promotes health and social connections

Allemande left and do-si-do – square dancing is coming to Sooke.

The Sooke Region Volunteer Centre will offer free square dancing classes at the Sooke Dance Studio, starting on Oct. 1 and running every Tuesday afternoon until Dec. 3.

“The classes will be from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. and, although we hope to attract seniors from the community, the classes will be open to everyone,” said Agnes Kossakowska, coordinator for the volunteer centre.

“We know that there’s a need for more programming like this in the community, and it would be great if some younger people could attend as well.”

A square dance is a dance for four couples in a group, arranged in a square (hence the name).

Although it’s rooted in dances developed in 16th century England, and throughout Europe, the dance form enjoyed a revival in North America in the mid-1950s.

The dancers are directed by a caller who strings together a series of dance moves to create a different dance sequence every time dancers take to the floor.

“It’s the puzzle aspect of the dancing that gets you hooked,” said Richard Sharman, one of the organizers of the class who will take on the calling responsibilities for the group.

“But it’s also the movement, the music, and the fellowship as all the people work together to make the dance happen.”

Sharman was quick to dispel some of the misconceptions about square dancing.

“Some people think it’s all country music. It’s not. We use everything from classical to old-time rock. So long as it has a steady beat, you can square dance to the music,” said Sharman.

“You also don’t have to wear fancy clothes with crinolines and string ties. Any comfortable clothes will do.”

And while the immediate goal of the classes is not to establish a local square dance club (the nearest organized group is in Colwood) Sharman said that if there was enough interest in the community, a club may be in the cards at some time in the future.

So folks wishing to “box the gnat” and “roll away to a half sashay” are invited to register for the square dance class by contacting the volunteer centre at 250-642-6369.

“It’s great fun and it’s good for you as well,” Sharman said.

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