Donna Valizan loves to kick-up her heels. From ballroom to line to swing, she loves to strap on her dancing shoes.
“I like square dancing the best, because it’s a friendship,” she said. “You meet people from all over. Every time you walk in the door, you’re greeted.”
She dances in Gardner monthly with the Docey Dandies, a square dancing club that started in the school cafeteria in 1956. Square dancing is the U.S. national dance, Valizan explained. For example, one call, or dance move is the “promenade,” the French word for “walk.”
“Every bit of it comes from different countries,” she said. “It’s very similar to Irish, but a lot of their calls were in lines. We do it in squares. To me, that’s amazing.”
At a square dance, four couples are situated in a square formation on the dance floor. The dance begins with a “patter,” in which there are no words to the music. A caller tells the dancers what to do. The next dance is always a “singing call.”
And it’s always in English – whether the square dance is hosted in New York City or Hong Kong. The singing calls are typically set to country music, but to appeal to people of all ages, square dance callers mix it up.
At a recent dance, the caller did a dance to the song, “Everybody’s Shufflin’”.
“My son couldn’t believe it,” Valizan laughed. “If you want the younger people, you’ve got to take some of their songs.”
But square dancing is for dancers of all ages and abilities, she said. The youngest member of the Docey Dandies last year was 8 years old. She started attending after watching her grandfather dance.
“She took lessons and really seemed to like it,” Valizan said.
There are more than 40 members of the Docey Dandies, but they’re always looking to expand and share the national dance with new members. To that end, the group will be hosting square dance lessons starting in September.
Lessons start the first Tuesday in September and continue through January at the Grange Hall on the Johnson County Fairgrounds. The first three lessons are free.
Regularly scheduled dances occur every second and fourth Saturday night from September through May.
For more information about the Docey Dandies, visit LINK, email the organization at [email protected] or call Donna, the club’s president, (913)592-3850.
Docey Dandies still kicking it after more than 50 years as a club