MORRISONVILLE The North Country Squares Building at Clinton County Fairgrounds was overflowing with lively music and laughter the evenings of Sept. 12 and 13. It was the dancing clubs annual kickoff to the new season, which traditionally opens with two free nights of square dancing. Children and adults enjoyed the fun-filled evening, which never fails to attract newcomers into the club.
Admission into the club takes some dancing 40 to 80 hours of it! Classes will be ongoing every Wednesday and Thursday night from 7-9 p.m. from now until February. The cost is $5 per class.Once dancers graduate in February, they may become members of the club by paying annual dues of $25 and can dance free in any of the club dances, including next years classes. Many graduates come back as Dance Angels for a second year of classes and are helpful in teaching the novices and making sure all single dancers have a partner. Co-presidents Celeste Roy and Dick Crawford go out of their way to make single dancers feel welcome, as four years ago they both came to the club without a dancing partner.
Besides square dancing, the club also provides lessons in one of the oldest forms of dancing, round dancing, which predates ballroom dancing. Maureen Wall teaches Sunday afternoon round dance classes which run from 1-4 p.m. and cost $6 per class.
The club holds member dances semimonthly on Saturdays at the Squares Building. Dances are held year-round and both square dancing and round dancing are offered.
Bob LaBounty keeps the square dance classes and dances moving smoothly with his 40 years of experience as a caller and instructor. His involvement in the club goes back almost to its origin in 1961 when avid dancers Bill and Norma Harvey relocated to Plattsburgh from Connecticut. They began dancing with friends and neighbors in homes and schools until 1974 when the members, then about 40, all pitched in and built the present day Squares Building.
To cover expenses, the club raises funds through an annual pancake breakfast at Sangers Sugar House in West Chazy and a refreshment stand at the Clinton County Fair.
The club is also involved with community events. This past weekend, the club put on square dancing demonstrations at St. Augustines AppleFest, similar to demonstrations they have put on for skilled nursing patients at CVPH Medical Center, where they annually raise funds for the CVPH Cancer Society.
The organizations "King" and "Queen" are crowned yearly at their Apple Blossom Dance. This years royalty is Dick Hegnauer and Marcia Richards.
The club currently boasts 116 members, and that number will likely go up by 14 this February, as that is the number signed up for classes so far.
Debbie Agoney from Peru and her husband were at the opening event and are planning to take the classes.
"It was my husbands idea," Debbie said. "His brother and his wife square dance and we thought it would be a good thing to do this winter. It is a lot of fun."
Eleven-year-old Abigail DAntonio from Dannemora was one of the younger participants. She came last year for one of the free nights and returned to enjoy a night of dancing with her mother.
"I think it is fun because I like to meet new people and do new things," Abigail said.
Besides having fun and making new friends, square dancing is also good exercise. Vicky and Lee Yaeger, both physical education teachers for the Saranac Central School District for 34 years, are in their third year of membership. Lee was also the athletic director for the last 13 years of his career.
"Square Dancing really raises your heart rate so you are getting a mild work out. It is a very good activity to improve your physical fitness," he said.
If you missed the first two nights of free dancing it is not too late. Newcomers are welcome every Wednesday and Thursday night from 7-9 p.m. through the end of September. All newcomers may dance free for two nights before deciding to commit to the weekly lessons, with no pressure to do so.
If you are looking for an evening of music, fun and dancing, head over to the North Country Squares Building at the Clinton County Fairgrounds on State Route 22.
For more information about square or round dancing call Celeste Roy, 492-2057, or Dick Crawford, 561-7167.