For members of the Southern Circle Square Dance Club, there’s nothing square about the pastime.
The club performed at the Carter County Free Fair on Thursday night, starting with beginners and ratcheting up the difficulty level. Club President Sharon Groomer said that, above all, the group is looking for more recruits to keep the tradition alive.
“We enjoy it,” Groomer said. “I can’t say I’ve lost any weight, but I’ve lost inches and gained friendships.”
People come to meetings in Dickson from Ardmore, Marietta, Healdton, Wilson and Kingston to socialize, learn new steps and dance during the first three Mondays of every month. Groomer said aside from one group in Sulphur, square dancing clubs are few and far between.
“We have some that come all the way from the Lake Texoma area,” Groomer said.
Groomer was born in Ardmore in 1948. As a high school student she participated in 4-H and the Carter County Free Fair. She said she picked up square dancing after her husband passed away in 2012. Like most of the members, she’d learned the basics of the dance in grade school, but hadn’t participated since then.
“They’ve been patient with me and taught me everything I could learn,” Groomer said. “We want to have everybody.”
Skip Gates, who has been square dancing for more than 40 years, serves as the club’s caller, the person who directs the dancer, and instructor. He said he picked up the skill while he was serving in the Air Force.
“I was overseas and we didn’t have anything else to do,” Gates said. “So I started dancing first. You need to be a dancer before you start teaching and calling.”
When his group’s caller returned home to the states, Gates took over.
“One thing led to another and I picked up my own club in Shreveport,” Gates said.
Skip and his wife Lou moved to Ardmore in 2004 and joined the club. He said at one time, Ardmore had roughly 10 square dancing clubs, but the hobby has declined in popularity over time.
“I just like the fellowship,” Gates said. “We called it friendship set to music. It’s not for everybody, but come out and give it a chance.”
The club meets at 7 p.m. on the first three Mondays of every month at the Dickson Community Center.