Swing your part­ner

Free square danc­ing lessons of­fered

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - By Tyler Smith

If you’re up for some good old fash­ion coun­try mu­sic and a few do-sa-dos, the New­ton County Hayrid­ers might have some­thing just for you.

The Hayrid­ers are of­fer­ing a free square dance les­son Mon­day to any­one look­ing for an en­ter­tain­ing way to lose a few pounds and meet a few new friends.

“It’s just some nice clean fam­ily fun,” said Mary Jane Howard, a Hayrider.

The Hayrid­ers’ hold the class twice a year and each class lasts 20 weeks. The class meets at the First Pres­by­te­rian Church ev­ery Mon­day night at 7 p.m. and any­one age 10 and older is al­lowed in to take part.

The first two nights of the class are free, but af­ter that dancers must pay a $60 fee for the re­main­ing lessons. Begin­ners can also pur­chase a name tag for $10.

The dance steps are called out by John Gib­son, who has been a fan of the dance since 1951. He said the first cou­ple of classes just in­tro­duced peo­ple to a few be­gin­ner moves.

“Well, some peo­ple call them ad­vanced,” Gib­son said. “But, not re­ally, any­body can do it.”

Each dancer is part of a square and each square has four pairs of men and women. Two of the cou­ples are the head cou­ples while two are the side cou­ples.

While the mu­sic plays, Gib­son rhyth­mi­cally calls out di­rec­tions to the dancers. Each square must work as a co­he­sive unit to pre­fect the dance.

Gib­son said the class fo­cused on the “Hoe Down” style of square danc­ing, but he does oc­ca­sion­ally ex­pose par­tic­i­pants to the “Sing and Call” ver­sion of the dance.

The dance it­self in­cludes men mov­ing in sync around a cir­cle while prom­e­nad­ing there part­ner; men and women mov­ing in op­po­site di­rec­tions around the square while chang­ing part­ners; and do-si-do­ing, which has four mem­bers at a time en­ter the mid­dle of the square, walk past each other, step to their right and walk back­ward on the op­po­site side of the per­son they just passed.

“They re­ally just learn the ba­sics in the class,” Gib­son said. “It’s not un­til they go out and dance at the clubs that they re­ally get into ad­vanced stuff.”

Ac­cord­ing to the Web site dosado.com, square danc­ing can be traced hun­dreds of years ago to Eng­land and Scot­land. Mod­ern square danc­ing be­gan with the Mor­ris dance in Eng­land, where six trained men par­tic­i­pated.

Square danc­ing is the of­fi­cial dance of Ge­or­gia, Gib­son said.

For some, square danc­ing can be­come more than just a fun hobby. There are Web sites for a variety of square danc­ing re­lated ac­tiv­i­ties which go be­yond nor­mal con­ven­tions. One site even dic­tates square danc­ing wed­ding vows.

There are sev­eral clubs that grad­u­ates of the class can fre­quent. The sec­ond and fourth Fri­day of ev­ery month, the New­ton Hayrid­ers dance at the Cousins Mid­dle School among other places.

Any­one in­ter­ested can call Howard at (706) 468-0166 or Edna Suther­land at (770) 7861024.

Mandi Singer/The Cov­ing­ton News

Danc­ing the night away: Class par­tic­i­pants swing with the Hayrid­ers at Cousins Mid­dle School.

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