Travelers square dance club preserves traditional American entertainment
By: Darrell Todd Maurina
Ron and Marie Selfors of Dixon enjoy square dancing Thursday evening at the Pulaski County Regional Fair in St. Robert.
SAINT ROBERT, Mo. (June 17, 2010) — “Swing your girl around and promenade! We sure make lots of waves on the water, a-rocking in Rosalie’s boat!”
Those words, dancing directions set to music by square dancing caller Kenton Sullivan, sounded Thursday evening inside the St. Robert Community Center at the Pulaski County Regional Fair. Area square dancers, many attired in traditional 1800s American clothing, gathered to perform the traditional dances.
Dancers included Beatrix Hutchins who began dancing only three years ago.
“Square dancing is a lot of fun, a lot of exercise, brain exercise on top of it, and the fellowship is wonderful,” Hutchins said. “You meet the best people with this square dancing and you get to travel because it is everywhere in the United States.”
Hutchins said she was introduced to square dancing by Cindy and Carl Boone, both members of the Travelers square dancing club in Pulaski County.
“They are free lessons,” Hutchins said.”We stuck out the lessons and we had fun after that. We wouldn’t miss it for the world.”
The club has been in the area since the 1960s and was organized to preserve a traditional form of American rural entertainment.
“There’s lots of little clubs around here. There’s one in Rolla, there’s one in Richland and Lebanon, and up north in Moberly, Columbia, and Jefferson City,” Hutchins said.
Randy Yocum said that the local club name indicates the members’ interest in traveling for square dancing.
“We’ve been to Mountain Home, Ark., for a special dance; we went to Oklahoma just a couple of months ago where there was a special dance,” Yocum said. “You travel and it gives you a good excuse to get out of town and do something.”
National square dance competitions are coming up soon in Louisville, Ky.
“People from all over the world are coming, some from Japan, from Germany, from everywhere,” Hutchins said. “Thousands of people will be there dancing.”
The dancing takes traditional directions to make different formations as a caller announces the directions set to music.
“It’s a good brain exercise; there’s a lot you have to remember, but we really enjoy it,” Yocum said.
The caller for Friday’s event is from Golden City in southwest Missouri, and a member of Southwest District Callers and Cuers. Inviting out-of-town callers is common in square dancing so dancers can learn new music and directions.
“Every caller has some different things that they use,” Sullivan said. “Even people learning to dance, the more different callers they get to dance to, the better they learn things. It’s all the same moves, it’s just a matter of how the caller puts them together.”
Sullivan said he’s been involved in square dancing since 1992 and began calling in 1993.
“It’s a non-alcoholic activity and the friends you meet are just terrific,” Sullivan said. “I travel throughout the state of Missouri into Arkansas and Kansas calling, and Oklahoma some. It’s just the neatest thing … everybody can dance. You’ve got college professors, we’ve got politicians, we’ve got everybody dancing and love to have more.”