Music that sounds to be a cross between Appalachian fiddle music and contemporary two-step pumps from the speakers at Colwood Community Hall.
Pairs of women in hoop skirts and men in slick, embroidered shirts work with three other couples – their inward-facing start formation puts the ‘square’ in square dancing. The groups listen closely and move to instructions called out by an equally festively dressed man with a microphone high on the stage.
The age group is mostly 50-over, although a few younger couples are here, twirling each other along with the rest.
“It’s been tough to generate new members over the years,” admits Saanich resident Sandra Rowan, president of the Victoria Country Cousins square dance club based in Royal Oak.
She is encouraged lately, however, having spotted an ad a while back about a workshop for recruitment and retention for dance clubs. Gaining new insight into how to bring in newcomers and keep them interested has helped boost the numbers of late.
“We’re starting to see younger people coming in,” says Rowan’s husband, Gordon, who notes he and Sandra started dancing at age 50.
Another way clubs work to keep this social and health-promoting activity alive is to take groups to other clubs’ home halls, Sandra says.
When one club visits another with at least two full squares – eight couples – it enables them to “steal the banner” of the other and forces the host club to reciprocate the next time the first club hosts a dance.
Part of the reason for the gathering in Colwood this day was to celebrate the 40th anniversary of involvement in square and round dancing – the ballroom-style variant of square dancing – for Denis and Sharon Kirkpatrick of Saanich. The couple are also part of the Country Cousins, which sent a number of people to the April 6 afternoon dance.
For couples or singles interested in learning square dancing, the next free introductory lessons happen Sept. 21 and 28, 7 p.m. at the Royal Oak Women’s Institute Hall, 4516 West Saanich Rd. for information or to pre-register, call Sandra at 250-658-4203 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you can visit countrycousins.bc.ca.