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Square dance brings back social connection in Vernon

Following isolation of pandemic, increased need for social interaction
Helen Sidney, the 100-year-old Citizen of the Year, (yellow jacket) is seen dancing at the Vernon Star Country Square Dance recent open house. (Contributed)

Following the stress and isolation of the last few years, a fun and easy avenue that’s mentally uplifting is hitting the dance floor.

The Social Square Dance program (SSD) focuses on making new friends, having fun and moving to good dance choreography, set to a wide variety of music.

The long-running non-profit Star Country Squares dance club of Vernon has adopted the program and it’s being well received. New dancer sessions start at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 2 in the Halina Activity Room at the Vernon Recreation Complex.

Newcomers are welcome to just drop in to discover the fun. The attire is casual; couples, singles, families and youth aged 12 and up are welcome and the fees are economical.

“Another important element about presenting Social Square Dancing as the pandemic winds down is that many people desperately need social interaction. The isolation brought about during the pandemic has taken a toll on mental health,” said Roxy Rollins, promotion volunteer.

In June of 2021, Dr. Lesley Lutes, president of the Canadian Council of Professional Psychology Programs, told dance leaders that: “Increasing lifestyle physical activity improves overall health and well-being – which is more needed than ever for B.C. residents.”

“What’s notable is that the program is a condensed version of the more extensive mainstream square dance program, intended to get newcomers dancing sooner,” said Rollins.

Taught once a week over 12 two-hour sessions, it encompasses 54 square dance ‘calls’ that define a destination program.

Upon learning the program, the dancers can enjoy regular fun dances without committing to additional instruction.

Furthermore, a shorter instruction period allows non-profit dance clubs like the Star Country Squares to build their membership by offering several lesson startups or intakes during the fall/winter/spring months.

For Star Country this will be their third of three startups.

“The dancers who undertook the first and second startups are now out having fun on the dance floor,” said Rollins.

An extra bonus is being able to travel to other nearby dance clubs such as in Salmon Arm and Chase/Kamloops where they’re presenting the same universal program.

“The SSD program is a reflection of the times,” said Rollins. “That being the lack of time people have in the 21st Century.”

The amiable and talented caller-teacher Allan Peterson of Salmon Arm travels to Vernon weekly to conduct the dance sessions.

For more information call 250-540-9877 or email

READ MORE: Busting a groove with Vernon’s Citizen of the Year

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Jennifer Smith

About the Author: Jennifer Smith

Vernon has always been my home, and I've been working at The Morning Star since 2004.
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