It’s not often that large groups of people travel to Powell River to go dancing. But on St. Patrick’s Day the Star Dusters’ dance hall at Timberlane was packed.
A troupe of about 35 dancers from upper Vancouver Island joined the local club for an afternoon of West Coast Square Dancing. At times there were eight squares on the floor and not an inch to spare. The enthusiastic visitors came from Nanaimo, Lantzville, Parksville, Qualicum, Courtenay and Campbell River, some sporting green hair and funny costumes. A few eyebrows were raised when the little band of leprechauns decided to do some impromptu square dancing on the ferry ride to Powell River.
It was a St. Patrick’s Day party to remember, with lots of great food, good fun and silliness. It was also a chance for a crop of new dancers to enjoy their new pastime and make new friends while dancing to Powell River callers, Gord Ruedig and Judy Alcock.
Ruedig developed the West Coast method of square dancing last year with the hopes that it would serve to quickly integrate new dancers into an activity designed to meet their needs rather than expect them to conform to what had “always been done before.” He expected to run into a lot of resistance from the old guard but instead has been quite “overwhelmed” by the response from both experienced and inexperienced dancers.
By the end of this year, the Powell River club will have trained 20 new dancers with two 10-week classes, the first of which started in September and the second in January.
This dance was a chance for all the dancers, new and old, to strut their stuff together.
The high energy afternoon brought many positive comments. One visitor said the new dancers gained confidence from knowing the other groups were learning the same steps. They were becoming quite comfortable going to dance with other clubs. Some expressed surprise at how hard it was to tell the new dancers from the experienced ones. At the end of the day there was great appreciation for the warm welcome and home-cooked lunch provided by the local club. West Coast dancing is clearly off to a good start.