Sunday, September 12, 2010

Swing Your Partner

I think my favorite newspaper-reading day other than the obvious choice of Saturday, would be Thursday. Thursday has the section that lists upcoming events of the entertainment variety in a handy insert. I study this insert. I circle, cut, and save. And I was wildly excited this past Thursday when I noticed a little notice for a "Community Square Dance" with a live string band, a professional caller, and fun for families. Well yee-haw and by golly, we Penner folk sounded like just the group for this square dance!

When I exuberantly announced this discovery and plan to the fam, they seemed skeptical. In fact, Hannah's reaction was a bit more grumpy than skeptical. She thought this was a dumb idea and couldn't believe I'd suggest something so ludicrous. But when this Momma gets a bee in her bonnet, it's full steam ahead - and so off we went to the Square Dance on Friday night!

The dance was happening at a venue in East Van called "The Cultch". It's a beautiful old church that's been re-vamped and functioning as a cultural centre for the community for the past 20 years or so. The vibe in the place felt very much like the West End Cultural Centre in Winnipeg - tonnes of old friends milling about, hugs, hand-shakes and community. I loved it right off the hop.

We sat down for a few minutes as the string band began to warm-up. Soon, the caller was at the microphone and was inviting everyone onto the floor for the first dance. Hannah decided to sit this one out. (As a note to all you square dancers out there - if you want to square dance as a family, best you have an even number of offspring in your family).

Soon the music was rolling and the calls were coming and you could not wipe the smile off of Sasha's face. This kid was born to square dance. Ellie was my partner for the first few dances. She's a little more reserved, but was the perfect "lady" for this "gent". We circled left and promenaded our way around the floor for a few tunes when suddenly Hannah emerged on the scene keen to get in on the action. Fancy that. Before we knew it she was hootin' and a hollerin' with the best of them while Ellie took a little breather.

Sasha, that sassy young thing, was dancing with an array of men and women.... and she was loving it. She may seem shy, but when that girl gets a chance to dance , well don't even think about standing in her way. Soon Mike took his chance for a breather and the Penner Four made a square and danced the rest of the night away.

There was life in that place. Strangers linking arms with strangers - laughing and clapping. Kids and seniors, talented and un-coordinated, short and tall, gay and straight, in and out and all around. Vibrant life. It took my breath away.

Soon there was a full dance floor. We were tired, hot, and squished. We decided it was definitely time for a gelato break at Dolce Nonna. And then came the best part of my evening. As we drove from "The Cultch" there was chitter and chatter in the van about how much freaking fun they'd had. And then Hannah piped up about even though she'd been reluctant, she had to admit that square dancing was "really really really fun and she'd love to do it again". Score one for this Momma. Yee Haw.

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