Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Hip to be Square

I can't think of a more perfect way to spend a Saturday night in the middle of Kentucky than at an old-fashioned square dance. We saw it on the schedule at the Natural Bridge Park Resort and headed down to Hoedown Island for a bit of knee-slappin', toe-tappin' fun.

We paid our $3 and gathered with about 100 other people who'd come to the outdoor patio in the middle of a lake. We sat on the bleachers circling the 'dance floor,' waiting and wondering what to expect. Out came the Hoedown Island Cloggers, a group of 10 dancers in Appalachian dance costume. They began tapping their way onto stage and showing us a step or two.

After they performed a few dances, they demonstrated the Virginia Reel and audience members moved to the stage to try it themselves. My husband and I sat out that dance, but it looked like so much fun that we grabbed a spot on the floor for the next rotation.

We paired off into groups of four: two couples facing each other, with all of the foursomes forming an inner and outer circle on the patio. We did Kentucky running sets in which we'd "swing our partner, then the other," and do a short dance before the inside couples moved down to their new couple to make a new foursome. Pretty soon the caller started telling us to “chase that rabbit, chase that squirrel, chase that pretty girl round the world," "“round one couple take a little peak," "right-hand across," and "chase that possum." 

I felt like a square dance flunkie. I could barely remember one move, let alone all these different moves in time to the music.

The dances were dizzying. I mean, really dizzying! I spun around in so many circles that I wasn't even sure where my partner was sometimes. But amazingly, everyone else there seemed to know just what to do. In fact, when I complimented them and thanked them for helping us figure out what to do next, they often remarked that they'd been doing it for years. So this must be a regular Saturday-night outing in those parts.

I can see why. It was a cheap night of fun; dancing in the fresh air, kicking up our heels. After the square dance, they did some country line dancing. My daughter took her turn on the dance floor then.

I guess what I learned is that when in Kentucky, do what the Appalachians have always done for fun: grab your partner and promenade.

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