Thompson Valley Stars

A recent 3-day dance festival called “Oceanside” at Parksville on Vancouver Island found some Kamloops participants among the more than 160 dancers in attendance. Merv & Sandy Meyer, from our city’s Westmount area, joined others from all over Canada and the U.S. Oceanside is actually a name that Islanders
use for a collection of communities surrounding Parksville.

Each morning during the Thursday/Friday/Saturday run of the Festival, the dancing began to a ‘panel of callers.’ This is when different callers from around the province donate their talents and time. Following one morning dance, Allen & Lexie Ebl of the Kamloops region accompanied the Meyers for a leisurely lunch break at a nearby Bistro.

The very next day, the popular eatery close to the dance hall attracted many other fellow dancers from the interior for a special moment. They were reunited with Shirley Gordon, longtime resident and dancer from Kamloops, who had recently moved to Parksville. “This is the wonderful part of square dancing” exclaimed Shirley, continuing “the social benefits and friends you make last over your lifetime.” Allen Ebl pointed out that he and his wife Lexie enjoy taking in ‘all aspects’ of square and round dancing, which includes the traveling, the visiting and the laughter. “I love the fact that everyone is so friendly,” Lexie said.

Attending the Festival as well were Wilma & Allan Baker of Abbotsford. Merv Meyer remarked “I used to dance with the Bakers in the 1980’s when I lived in the Lower Mainland. It was great to see them again and good to know that they still enjoy dancing now as much as they did then.”

The Meyers, who teach square and round dancing themselves, enjoyed two ‘workshops’ each afternoon, where the dancers learn different combinations of moves in ‘Plus’ dancing. It’s a level of modern square dancing where dancers can enjoy more challenging calls, such as ‘Teacup Chain,’ ‘Spin Chain the Gears,’ ‘Relay the Deucey,’ ‘Ping Pong Circulate’ and many others.  Workshops give you a chance to try out these moves from numerous positions.

The evening square and round dances on both Thursday and Friday were called by a panel of callers and cuers. The dances include two ’round dances’ (choreographed ballroom) between  ‘tips.’ A ‘tip’ entails a patter and a singing call. A patter is a series of called figures which allow the dancers to intermingle and then get you back to your partner. The second part of a ‘tip’
is a singing call, which gives the men a chance to dance with each lady in the square. Merv & Sandy Meyer had the opportunity to perform some much-loved duets to a full floor of enthusiastic dancers. They also got to dance with each other when Sandy wasn’t taking her turn ‘cueing.’

“Saturday night is the main attraction,” explained Sandy, “where the featured caller and cuer put on the entire evening dance, entertaining and joking while performing.” The featured caller, Jerry Junck, makes his home in Wayne, Nebraska, during the summer and in Mesa, Arizona, for the winter. Merv recalls “I have used some of Jerry’s recordings in the past and he is a very
smooth-flowing caller.” He continued, “Jerry’s basic philosophy is that square dancing must be fun.” Sandy commented on how friendly and down-to-earth Jerry was and that he mixed well with the dancers. Stuart Hemmings, who cues and teaches round dancing in Victoria, was the featured cuer.

The Meyers encourage Kamloops area residents to join the fun and try today’s “modern” style of square dancing this Fall. The Kamloops Square Dancers club presents two free new dancer sessions September 12 & 19, with no commitment and no obligation, at 7:30 pm in the Desert Gardens Community Centre, followed by 10 more fun sessions by registration.

For more information, including new dancer sessions starting in the Fall, call 250-376-5636, or email: meyerdance@telus.net.

The benefits of the recreation can be explored at:

http://www.thompsonvalleystars.squaredance.bc.ca.html

or: www.TakeMeDancing.squaredance.bc.ca

Also, see the online video: www.DancingKeepsYouYoung.ca

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