For 63 years, the Turlock Steppin Pards have do-si-do’d around the city, keeping the American tradition of square dancing alive through exciting dance steps and fun outfits. The square dance club meets weekly to practice their calls and dancing, and is inviting the community to join them with new lessons beginning in September.
Square dancing 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. Calls can be combined in any order to form a unique set of movements, and no two square dances are exactly the same.
Former club president Sheri Cummings and her husband, current club president Dennis Cummings, have travelled up and down California and even to Nevada, attending various square dance events. Square dancing, said Cummings, has provided her husband and herself with the opportunity to forge new relationships and see new places.
“It’s a great opportunity,” she said. “We’ve made a lot of friendships throughout the state.”
Those who aren’t looking to travel, but are perhaps in search of a way to stay fit may also be interested in square dancing, Cummings added.
“It’s really good for people that want to keep their minds and bodies active,” said Cummings. “The mental and exercise part of it is amazing.”
The Steppin Pards are one of eight square dancing clubs in the area, and throughout the eight clubs the ages of dancers varies from eight to 90 years old. Lessons offered by the Steppin Pards have no age requirement, and dancers can come alone or as a couple.
“If you can walk, you can learn to square dance,” said Cummings.
While lessons are held on Wednesday nights, the club also holds five party dances a year. At party dances, dancers often come dressed in traditional square dance outfits and members of the various square dancing clubs throughout the area are invited. A special caller is also often brought in.
“It’s really a social time,” said Cummings. “Square dancing is an affordable way to connect with your spouse and do date night.”
Though the club does enjoy dressing up, there is no dress code for Wednesday night lessons. A sneak peak of the club’s dance moves can be seen this Saturday at the Turlock Certified Farmers’ Market, where the Steppin Pards will be performing from 10 to 11 a.m.
The Steppin Pards’ square dance lessons begin on Sept. 7. Classes are held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the American Legion Hall, 75 Bothun Road, and cost $5 per person. Or dancers can purchase six classes for one person for $15 or six classes for two people for $26. For more information, contact Dennis and Sheri Cummings at 996-0844 or Terry and Janet Passarino at 620-6919.