Square dancers to host a free event

Terry Nelson has been square dancing for  approximately 17 years after a friend got him into it. Now, he's hoping to get others around the community involved and maybe wrangle some younger particpants onto the dance floors. 

"We haven't been able to get younger folks to take it up," he said. "We found it a real challenge to track people in their 20s and 30s, even their 40s. We started in our 40s but then you have kids and things drop off for awhile." 

Nelson is hoping that with a little word of mouth, the Emerald Empire Square Dance Association he belongs to can stir up some interest in a free community square dance on Friday, September 29.

"We hope people will give it a try," he said. 

While the interest in the art of square dancing has ticked down, Nelson said stereotypes may be largely at fault. He noted that flannel shirts and cowboy boots are not mandatory and that music isn't always of the country variety. 

"There was a stigma that it was always country music but there are callers that use all types of music," he said, rattling off jazz, rock and, ocassionally rap, as examples.

As for where someone might find others who also spend their free time square dancing, Nelson said opportunity is there for those who look for it. 

He and his wife belong to the Cottage Grove Boots and Sandals Square Dance Club here in Cottage Grove. 

"It's suffering a little bit here," he said. "Because we don't have a lot of local callers. We have to get people from Portland, Albany and Roseburg."

A caller calls out the moves of each dance and while they sometimes also participate in the dance while calling, it's not standard in modern square dancing. 

To take part in the local square dance scene, one does not have to break the bank. 

According to Nelson, lessons are $3 per person. 

"It's not a terribly expensive hobby," he said. 

For more information on the upcoming dance to be held in Springfield, visit daretodancesquare.info. Or call Christine at 541-520-9549 or Terry at 514-688-2958.