The hugs started right upon entering the room as former dancers came to reacquaint. Starting at 6 p.m., it was a mini-reunion meet-and-greet, followed by a dance, held at the South Main Drop-In Centre.
They all danced at one time with the Penticton Squares square and round dance club. As past member Doug Youngstrom of Penticton reflected: “I must say the usual fun we experience from this activity is ever present.”
Now retired, Youngstrom and his wife, Louise, whirled around the dance floor at the club for many years.
Overall, about 98 dancers past and present were in attendance and just over 70 of those were willing and able to enjoy the dance portion.
A brief ceremony took place at 7 p.m. acknowledging 24 past members who identified themselves over the microphone and were gifted a carnation followed by a group picture. Many enjoyed reminiscing at an exhibit of photos from over the years.
Notable was a special presentation of “Four Score & More” badges to seven dancers who are staying active on the dance floor at 80-plus years of age. A previous recipient, Harold Domi of Penticton, has been square and round dancing for 63 years.
Club president Diane Tucker of Okanagan Falls, enthused, “it's heartwarming to see members hug, reconnect with old friends and share memories. Many are pioneers in the local square dance community.”
Bill Morey of Penticton is holding down the presidency and chairmanship of the Okanagan Square & Round Dance Association, representing square, round and clog dance clubs from Penticton north to Enderby. He reaffirmed the comments of others saying, "(it’s) so nice to reconnect with other retired dancers and catch up on how they are doing and about the families.”
While the evening opened with the gathering of past and current members, the larger portion featured a “Spring Dance Party” with two entertainers: Barry Sjolin of Penticton doing the square dance calling and Ken Boyd of Penticton doing live cues for the round dancers. Round dancing is similar to ballroom, except it’s choreographed and nobody leads.
Sjolin experienced a computer glitch at the start of the dancing that temporarily barred access to his music. He amazed the dancers with his skill by proceeding with the square dance calls a cappella, having the dancers move in perfect timing to the cadence of his voice.
It was a special appearance for Sjolin, now retired from weekly calling engagements after having called for the club for 23 years.
Leo Ruscheinski and his wife, Annette, of Summerland, currently dance with the group and have done so for 17 years. They said, “it was our great pleasure to meet and greet with former square and round dancers and to have the honour of sharing the dance floor and the conversation with all our past and present square dance friends.”
Youngstrom summarized the event saying “we enjoyed visiting with old friends from our days of dancing, listening to the music… it’s an activity that is good for us.”
As the key organizer, Tucker concluded, “there was such a joyful ambiance, truly a memorable evening.”
A general promotional web page about square dancing and its related dance forms can be found at www.SquareDanceFun.info.
For additional information about the Penticton Squares, contact club president Diane Tucker at 250-497-6970 or firstname.lastname@example.org.