In 2004, I caught my wife Donna by complete surprise when I asked her if she wanted to take square dance lessons. She knew I was musically challenged (I think the term she used was tone deaf). However, I knew Donna loved to dance so when Larry Kraber, our beloved retired caller, convinced me that since I could walk I could learn to square dance, I said, “Sure, we’ll give it a try.”
On the first day of our Sunday evening lessons, I was told it would take four months to learn the Mainstream calls.
“What have I gotten us into? Where’s the exit,” I said to Donna.
“Forget it. They locked the exit door. Besides, if we go home, you’ll just eat ice cream while watching TV reruns,” she replied. (I know she was also thinking, “Losing a few pounds wouldn’t hurt you.”)
My apprehension quickly subsided after our first lesson, as I discovered the club’s teaching method was failsafe. We had learned our first three square dance calls (without me stepping on someone else’s feet), and I was beginning to believe I could learn to square dance without having the talents of Fred Astaire.
There were four couples in our square and two of them were experienced (and very patient) dancers. These veteran couples were called Angels and, rightfully so, as they were always there to lend a helping hand. Just as important, we quickly learned these Angels were some of the nicest folks you could ever hope to meet. Since we were relatively new to SaddleBrooke at the time, we were also delighted to learn square dancing was also an ideal way to quickly make new friends. (In our many years of square dancing, we have met some of our most treasured SaddleBrooke friends.)
I won’t tell you that learning square was a cakewalk, as it certainly wasn’t. However, I will tell you between our excellent caller’s instructions, online video review lessons, our Angels, and many practice dances, Larry Kraber was right when in his recruitment of me, he said, “Anyone can learn to square dance.” I would even go so far as saying that Arthur Murry could take some lessons on how to teach dancing from the SaddleBrooke Square Dance Club.
I am a firm believer in the importance of staying physically fit (I still force myself to go to the SaddleBrooke One fitness center three times a week), so I was also delighted to learn I got close to 3,000 steps during my lessons. I also think mental exercise is as important as physical exercise for your well-being. Believe me when I tell you that learning the many calls in square dancing is some of the best mental exercise you can get!
We all know that staying physically active, exercising our brain, and having an active social life contribute to enjoying our retirement years to their fullest. Learning to square dance gives you all three, so Donna and I encourage you to give it serious consideration.
When we get this horrendous COVID-19 behind us, our SaddleBrooke Squares club will offer a free introduction to square dancing. (You’ll see it advertised throughout SaddleBrooke.) We encourage you to attend and see for yourselves if square dancing and all that comes with it is for you.
Meanwhile, if you would like to learn more about our club visit our website at www.saddlebrookesquares.com.