There once was a square and round dance club right in Sicamous.
Known as the Belles & Buoys, they were very active and even hosted a couple of the Okanagan’s annual Spring Fling dance events in the gym at Eagle River Secondary, attracting hundreds of dancers. Local restaurants and motels were busy. Semi-professional square dance callers were featured and the seasonally-themed decorations were always extraordinary.
Despite Sicamous’ loss of its dance club, square dancing has endured elsewhere, and active dance clubs can be found in most of the larger, and some of the smaller cities. Salmon Arm and Blind Bay have clubs and, just down the road, Enderby boasts its very own group. Now, the Enderby club is expanding and welcomes new and former square dancers to join in the fun.
The Enderby River Dancers open their doors at 6 p.m. for new square dancer sessions at the Seniors Centre hall, 1101 Highway 97A.
“Newcomers to today’s style of square dancing are in for a great experience,” says club president Bob Byrne of Vernon. He explained that the modernized dance form presents uplifting music ranging from pop to country, and show tunes to golden oldies. It’s casual attire and all ages, singles, families are welcome.
About the ease of learning to square dance, caller-teacher, Allan Peterson of Salmon Arm, says, “You simply have to walk to the beat of the music. There are no complicated steps.”
Peterson says his prime goal is to make the sessions lots of fun, but he also strives to make his dancers feel successful.
“Through patience, clarity of instruction and lots of review, I can help everyone master the calls,” he said.
The square dance calls come from an internationally-standardized list that’s taught in English worldwide. Peterson enthuses, “A square dancer can attend dances in countries like Japan or Germany and participate quite comfortably”
“The benefits of learning to square dance are many,” says Byrne. “For starters, we price it economically, yet you get a premium value in terms of a mild aerobic activity that also exercises the mind and brings new friends.”
The dance club equally enjoys another dance form called ‘round dancing,’ for which lessons are also offered. It is choreographed ballroom dancing including two-steps and waltzes, set to a particular piece of music, where couples take direction from a ‘cuer.’ Nobody leads and there are no routines to memorize. The dancers progress in a large circle around the dance floor to each sequence that the cuer announces over the mike. Cueing round dances is the specialty of Peterson’s wife, Laura, who is anxious that newcomers also consider round dance instruction at the same location on the same night.
The River Dancers have already planned a graduation bash for April, where not only their newly-accomplished square dancers can attend, but also newcomers from throughout the Shuswap and Okanagan.
Extending a warm welcome to the upcoming new sessions, Byrne concluded, “Coffee’s always on.”
For more information, contact Dianne Peters at 250-838-9445, or by email at EnderbyRiverDancers@yahoo.com.