Penticton Squares spin fitness and fun into dance

Penticton Squares invite everyone to celebrate square and round dance this month with free lessons and demonstrations.

Square dancers Sharon Boggs and Ken Boyd at a recent jamboree held at the Seniors Drop-In Centre during the Penticton Peach Festival in August. The Penticton Squares dance club will be celebrating Square and Round Dance Awareness all month with free sessions and demonstrations.

Square dancers Sharon Boggs and Ken Boyd at a recent jamboree held at the Seniors Drop-In Centre during the Penticton Peach Festival in August. The Penticton Squares dance club will be celebrating Square and Round Dance Awareness all month with free sessions and demonstrations.

It’s a mental and physical workout and square dancing isn’t just for backyard barn hoedowns and country fairs anymore.

“You simply walk to the beat of the music. Music like Haven’t Met You Yet, Moves Like Jagger and All Night Long put a little spring in your step. It’s so much fun,” said Diane Tucker who is a new dancer to the club. “Dancing for two hours is like walking eight kilometres, I’m glad I put this fitness program on my bucket list.”

The Penticton Squares square and round dance club are enjoying the mix of the traditional form and revitalized recreational activity with the injection of contemporary music.

It is why they are joining the provincial government in recognizing square and round dance week Sept. 15 to 21. The province and local dancers are encouraging everyone to get involved in the dance form that improves physical, mental and social health of young and old alike.

“This type of dance is good for all ages. The music is so uplifting and the dancers are so friendly that they make me feel comfortable. On top of that, I made new friends,” said Penticton dancer Armida De Michelis.

After taking three free lessons she was hooked, just like the thousands who once flocked to Penticton during Peachfest to stomp their feet on an outdoor floor at King’s Park. Square dancing and the Peach Festival have a history dating back to 1954 with the first jamboree taking place on a small outdoor wooden floor in Queen’s Park and 200 couples registered. In the years that followed thousands would register to dance at King’s Park on an 18,000 square foot floor. The jamboree is now a separate event, but still held the same weekend as Peach Festival, and took place at the Penticton Seniors Drop-In Centre.

Jim and Vicky Kosowan admit their initial steps on the dance floor were challenging but the assistance they received from the outset made the introduction easy.

“Thanks to angels (dance assistants) and the patient teacher, we learned them. They were very forgiving if we made errors,” said Vicky. “We enjoy the experience and the camaraderie very much and will continue. The more we dance, the more we enjoy it.”

Now the Penticton couple are finding their reaction to the square dance call is becoming automatic. Round dancing is also part of the fun for the Penticton Squares.

This is choreographed ballroom dancing where a cuer guides dancers through each step so there is no need to memorize routines and nobody leads.

To celebrate the awareness week, the Penticton Squares will demonstrate today’ style of square dancing at Cherry Lane Shopping Centre on Sept. 21 at 3 p.m. They are also hosting an open house on Oct. 1 at the Seniors Drop-In Centre at 2965 South Main St. from 7 to 9 p.m.

Three free Thursday dance sessions will follow on Oct. 3, 10 and 17 at the Shatford Centre from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Organizers invite everyone to attend any or all with no obligation or commitment.

Additional sessions will follow by registration.

For more information contact pentictonsquares@shaw.ca or by phone at 250-492-5856 or 250-492-3247.