Timberline Toppers start lessons
January 9, 2010
Kevin Reynolds wasn’t enthusiastic about the idea of square dancing, but when friends invited her, she checked out the Timberline Toppers. Now, only a couple of years later, she and her husband are co-presidents of the Summit County square dancing club.
“It was probably the most fun I’ve had in years,” Reynolds said about her first experience. “There’s lots of laughter, they’re loose, and they don’t expect perfection from the dancers.”
Reynolds and her husband, Tom, keep coming back because square dancing offers “good exercise,” both mentally and physically. Though most of the members are retired locals, age 50 plus, Reynolds said square dancing is for anybody, and she encourages younger people to try swingin’ a partner roun’ and roun’.
“It’s a traditional dance that is part of Americana,” she said. “I don’t think people realize how much fun it is.”
The Timberline Toppers Square Dance Club began in 1989, with Bob and Linda McKinley, and graduated a class of 15 that year. Members “graduate” after taking 20 lessons in 10 weeks.
This year’s classes start Thursday and take place every Tuesday and Thursday night (cost is $80). This Tuesday’s chili supper already has about 116 people signed up to find out more about square dancing through an easy demonstration. Reynolds hopes the event will produce a class of about 40, to take beginner lessons.
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Last year, the Toppers graduated about 40 people, and the largest class they ever graduated was 59, said co-president Chuck Boyd. Once dancers complete the series of classes, they can attend any mainstream square dance in the world.
“Anywhere you go, everybody welcomes you into their club,” Boyd said. ” … Square dancing is like one big family.”
Last year’s Fourth of July celebration in Frisco drew 160 dancers to the gazebo on Main Street, Boyd said.
One of the lighthearted games clubs play, in order to promote the idea of visiting other towns to square dance, involves stealing clubs’ banners. When a group of eight dancers travels to another club and dances, it can register as “stealing the banner.” (If more than one visiting club happens to attend, they hold a drawing.) Then, the missing-banner club must gather eight people (or a “square”) to recover their trademark. With 68 clubs throughout the state, the tradition can involve plenty of traveling.
Locally, dances cost $5 for club members and $6 for nonmembers. Dances take place every first and third Saturday from 7:30-9:30 p.m. (with Plus dances, which require further instruction, beginning at 7 p.m.).
“The high energy of this group is a real joy,” Boyd said. “… Single or couple, we take anybody who wants to square dance. We bring ’em into the dance so that they feel welcome and they get their money’s worth. You can’t buy anything cheaper in the county – and you get exercise.”