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Getting back into the swing
Turlock square dancing club looking for new members
Steppin Pards
New and veteran square dancers get back into the swing during a community dance hosted by the Turlock Steppin Pards on March 30 (KRISTINA HACKER/The Journal).

The Turlock Steppin Pards are hoping to share their love of square dancing by offering beginner dance lessons every Wednesday through June 22.

The Steppin Pards have been do-si-doing and promenading for 69 years. Before the pandemic, club members would travel the area for dances, as well as national and international dance competitions.

“There used to be eight clubs in our area, but right now because of COVID, we have five active clubs and we’re hoping the other three will come back so we’re wanting to get new dancers and get them into the square dance community and dancing,” said Steppin Pards president Sheri Cummings. “And then we also are inviting rusty dancers, somebody that maybe stopped with COVID and now it’s been two years since they’ve danced and we’re asking them to come back.”

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The weekly lessons are open to dancers of all ages and skill levels.

“We’ve got dancers of all ages, with the majority over 50,” said Cummings.

Jessi Maxwell and her daughters Abby and Miri participated in the free community dance evening hosted by the Steppin Pards on March 30.

“I came out to add something to the mix with my kids, something to do with them as an experience,” said Maxwell.

While square dancing in the area continues to pay tribute to its western origins with classic songs, Cummings said that their caller often mixes in modern songs, including some Lady Gaga.

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Once learned, square dancing can be a great way to stay active, said Cummings. The dance starts out with four couples, eight dancers total, facing each other in a square formation. The caller tells the dancers which moves, or “calls,” to do next. While the cuer does much of the same, callers are often more outspoken and entertaining, and cuers tend to be as unobtrusive as possible. Calls can be combined in any order to form a unique set of movements, and no two square dances are exactly the same.

The beginner dance lessons will be held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesdays through June 22 at the American Legion Hall, 75 Bothun Rd., Turlock. For more information on fees, call (209) 996-0844.