SCHERTZ — Square dancing has long been a staple of various cultures around the world dating back to its 17th-century European origins.
Today, groups such as the Schertz FunDancers Square and Line Dance Club are putting their own spin on the steps, moving to the beats of pop, rock and Motown music at the instruction of an announcer, traditionally referred to as a caller.
They meet every Sunday – with the exception of Super Bowl Sunday – from 7-9 p.m. at the North Community Center, also known as the Fun Palace, at 3501 Morning Drive.
“When that music gets going and you’re dancing, it feels so good,” said club President Jim Douglas.
Starting Jan. 6, the FunDancers, formed in 2010, will be conducting two hours of beginner square-dance lessons for 16 weeks, prior to their weekly activity, which will run from 5-7 p.m.
Classes are open to dancers 13 and older; underage youngsters may be considered on a case-by-case basis, Douglas said.
The first instruction is free and $80 total for the remainder of the sessions. Scott Emmons, a recent graduate, said lessons are important because there are a set number of organized rhythmic patterns students must memorize.
“When you square dance, you’re dancing with four couples and are at the mercy of the caller who calls out different synchronized movements,” he said. “You have to know from a brain-memory standpoint what a specific call means and what your next move is.”
Each gathering begins with a review of the previous week’s teachings, Douglas said.
“It gets very easy to remember,” he said.
Current FunDancers, such as Emmons and Grace Brooks, praise square dancing for the health and social benefits it provides.
Brooks, a New Braunfels resident, said some group members attended her mother’s funeral recently, filling two rows of pews.
“Everybody is nice and helps each other out,” she said. (A square-dancing club) is “just a positive place to be.”
Emmons said the synergy and warmth from his fellow square dancers is felt every time he enters a club.
“That is when the magic takes place,” he said. “You look around the square and everyone is smiling because we are creating energy with synchronized movements.”
Emmons and Brooks have experienced better muscle memory with the aid of square dancing. Emmons attributed the improvement to the intense concentration it takes to perform the caller’s commands.
“(The different calls) challenge you because now your brain and muscle memory is not activated by one direction,” he said.
Brooks said her troubles disappear once she hits the dance floor.
“I’m so focused on square dancing and having so much fun that I have no idea that I had any problems or worries,” she said.
Douglas agreed the toe-tapping beat creates a stress-free environment.
“Everyone that comes to square dancing sees a nice time where they can relax and enjoy themselves with like-minded people who want to get enjoyment out of their spare time,” he said.
Santa Claus is expected to make a special visit to the FunDancers’ Dec. 2 Christmas Square Dance session, where he will do-si-do the night away.
For more on the event and lessons, email Jim Douglas at firstname.lastname@example.org.