Weekend leisure: Stepping out

By Danielle Wright

Danielle Wright dosey does with the Dansintyme square dancing club.

Square dancers at the national convention. Photo / Supplied
Square dancers at the national convention. Photo / Supplied

On a Monday night in suburban Remuera, Dansintyme meets in Gary and Julie Irwin's old billiards room to square dance and socialise.

Caller David Brown stands in the kitchen next to a turntable, amplifier and a box of seven-inch records, calling instructions such as: "Pass through with a wheel and a deal," "Explode your wave," and "Ping pong, circulate".

The group of eight twirls in pairs and carry out the instructions easily. They've been dancing together for 10 years so they've had plenty of practice together - both here and at dances across the world.

I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles, is crackling down the speakers as Brown reminds everyone to: "Keep smiling as you go".

It's like watching synchronised swimming, above ground - everyone's in synch and making patterns with their arms as they pass around each other in pairs, on their own, and in groups.

"Wherever you dance - whether it's Japan or Germany, it's always called in English," says the club's president Gary Irwin.

There are two main types of square dancing, the traditional and the modern (or Western-style) and I'm told the main difference is that modern square dancers touch forearms.

Square dancing can still be found around New Zealand on Saturday nights at organised inter-club events.

Dansintyme frequently goes to dances in Hamilton and Rotorua, and a couple of years ago went to an event in Western Australia.

You don't have to join a club to head down to a Saturday night dance, but as Irwin explains: "Anyone can go to the dances, but only dancers can dance - it takes about 12 months to get up to a certain level and people need to commit to it every week."

It takes a bit of thought and co-ordination to listen to the calls and do what's required.

It's also a good way to exercise, without noticing - a pedometer reads 6km of walking during the session.

"If you can walk, you can square dance," says my partner, Jeff Milnes, encouragingly, and I'm surprised to find I'm actually pretty good at it. Your mind is distracted listening to the calls so you don't feel the slightest self-consciousness that's a part of one-on-one dance moves.

Brown resumes his calls: "Girls run around the boys", "Now, dosey doe." He looks up at me and says: "You know they don't always take the same girl home," but they are so sweet, I'm sure they do.

It's hip to be square

Dansintyme Square Dancing Club contact is Gary@irwin.pl.net. To find a club in your area visit: nzsquaredance.webs.com
Clubs that may be interested in learner square dancers include Howick Square Dance Club (d - s - helliwell@slingshot.co.nz) and Lyndale Square Dance Club (bdhendry@clear.net.nz).

- NZ Herald

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