Have you ever had the desire to dance to live string music, or promenade with strangers? If so, you might want to look into square dancing.
“I like it when it gets to a certain place, when the dancers are really connected with the music and the energy of the room is lighting up higher and higher,” Nathan Harrison said.
Harrison was the caller for Square Dance NOLA’s last square dance. Square Dance NOLA has a dance almost every second Monday of every month.
The dance is held in the Fellowship Dance Hall at the church. A string band sits on a large stage leaving the large dance floor open to people of all ages to dance. Young couples, friends, children, and husbands and wives dance around smiling and moving their, some bare, feet to the music. Everyone has a smile on their faces and clap with appreciation when each song was over.
If you are worried you can’t participate in the square dance because you don’t know the moves, have no fear. At 7:30 p.m., before the actual dance starts, there is a dance lesson. Last dance Harrison was the one who taught beginners before the dance how to execute square dance moves. Harrison has been calling for two or three years. The normal Square Dance NOLA caller is Dan Wally Baker, but last dance Baker played in the band Snakeleg Rounders and Harrison called.
According to Harrison his favorite types of square dance moves are the ones where the momentum of one move pushes you into the next one.
“The callers are kind of singing over top of the music, staying in time to lead the dancers through the traditional figures,” Baker said.
People from all over the state of Louisiana and all over the U.S. have come to participate in Square Dance NOLA’s dances. Jordan Garza, a native of Kentucky, has been square dancing for around four years. Garza was visiting a friend in the city who saw the event on Facebook and thought the dance would be fun.
“Its interesting to see. Where I’m from there’s enough people who do it regularly enough that the whole vibe is kind of different,” Garza said. “We don’t all have to hear the moves normally; we pretty much know what’s going on.”
Even though the dance wasn’t what the experienced square dancer was used to, he still seemed to be having a great time dancing around with strangers at different dance levels.
Participating in square dancing, no matter what your dance level is, is a great way to have fun with people in the community.
“We love the idea of being able to not only dance together, but also associate together, to be able to have fun and get to know each other,” Pastor Fred Powell said.
Pastor Powell is the pastor at First Presbyterian Church where Square Dance NOLA holds their square dances. The Pastor has been with Square Dance NOLA for two years and his favorite parts are the people and the music.
“I feel like it’s the people who make this old tradition come alive,” Pastor Powell said.
One member of the church Christopher Roberts encourages everyone to come out and participate in square dancing.
“It’s fun and casual. There are no prior dance skills needed,” Roberts said. Roberts has been going to Square Dance NOLA square dances since they have been at the church. “The callers, Dan and Nathan, are very good. Everyone should come check it out at least one time, it’s a fun thing to do on a Monday,” Roberts said.
To participate in the square dance it only cost $5 and red beans and rice is $2, and since it’s New Orleans BYOB. People are encouraged to wear comfortable clothes and shoes.
For more information on upcoming events check out squaredancenola.com