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High Country dancers in Ruidoso

For the 64th annual N.M. State Festival, members of the High Country Squares made the long drive to beautiful Ruidoso, N.M. for a Mother’s Day Weekend of fancy square dancing and fun with friends old and new from New Mexico as well as Texas, Arizona and Colorado.

Pagosa club members Gayle and Jim Hawkins, Lorna and Gene Fox, Jeannine and John Thomas, Michael Saunders, Ruth and Richard Berry, Judy and Lewis Norton and Carla Roberts joined forces with dancers from the other North West District clubs of Farmington and Durango for a weekend of endlessly creative and challenging calling by the one and only Tony Oxendine from South Carolina.

Oxendine has a solid background as a musical performer and is sought after as much for his stunning vocal abilities as his deceptively simple variations of our mainstream square dance calls. It is no wonder that he devises such ingenious combinations with his background in math and computer science from the University of South Carolina. He now travels almost 300 days annually doing festivals and dances all over the world and routinely calls in over 30 states in the US. What a great pleasure is was to enjoy his enormous talent with 25 squares (four couples each) dancing simultaneously. He kept the pace up and even attempted to recreate a singing call recorded in the 1950s that was 135 beats per minute. We clocked in at 129 beats per minute — fast enough. Those bygone dancers of the ’50s must have been in great shape to dance that fast. Of course back then the average age of square dancers was the mid-20s. Now it is 65.

Square dancers are an organized bunch with clubs divided among regional, state and national lines and regular planning meetings for upcoming events held at all levels. Next year the New Mexico State Festival will be held in Farmington and preparations are well under way to put on a memorable event for all.

The High Country Squares will sponsor a free community square dance with pie and ice cream social on Friday, June 3, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the PLPOA Clubhouse at 230 Port Ave. We invite anyone in the community to attend this introduction to Modern Western Square Dance with our caller Jim Park. Come on down and learn a few easy calls, have lots of fun and socialize with our very friendly bunch here in Pagosa Springs.

This is a kickoff for our beginners’ class starting Monday, June 6, 6:30 to 8 p.m. with our club caller Jim Park doing the teaching. Each class is $4.00 per person. The only requirement is to bring your left and right feet, your enthusiasm, and your sense of humor.

What started out as dance styles transplanted to the New World with our earliest settlers under rustic conditions has changed into what we know today as Modern Western Square Dancing. The music is varied, including country, western, rock and roll and pop. It is done in couples, with teams of four couples called a “square”. Single students are carefully matched with knowledgeable partners.

The High Country Squares offers weekly dances, regional dances and a wonderful sense of community for local and visiting dancers. Contact Lorna at 970-731-5525 for more information.

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