As community liaison for Little T Squares Dance Club in Lenoir City, Sherry Hunter invites all to a Sept. 4 free preview of classes that will start the following week, held each Tuesday.
Is this a country-western thing?
Yes, it's Western square dancing. The main difference between it and barn dancing is that barn dancing includes drinking and we don't drink or smoke at our dances. One of the first questions I'm always asked is, "Do I have to wear a big frou-frou puffy dress?" The answer is no, though that is a traditional square dance outfit.
Do a lot of people end up with the puffy dress?
Usually that's what happens, yes. Some people continue to wear jeans, and that's fine.
Is square dancing good cardio?
It's an excellent workout. We have a card we hand out, with Dr. Mehmet Oz saying dancing is the best way to stay physically and mentally fit. Square dancing combines these two and socializing—and they don't do this at every club, but our hosts also provide food. It's fun, but your mind is also processing what the caller just said, while listening to what you're supposed to be doing next. He'll call what you least expect—it's almost like a game.
Do people wear special shoes?
The ideal situation is to dance on a wooden floor with leather-sole shoes, but when we dance on pavement, leather shoes can get torn up so we often wear tennis shoes or rubber shoes.
For the sample class, are tennis shoes okay?
Yes. That's exactly what the taste is all about; you show up and see if you like that sort of thing. And then the classes start the following Tuesday. But it's pretty important to start soon; you can't decide to join halfway through the year. I'm going to encourage you to come now and that way you won't have any regrets. And by the way, some people just wear tennis shoes the whole time, never switching to leather soles; some have worn them and danced for 10 years or more.
Do you have a favorite song?
When I hear a caller call "Rocky Top," it just warms my heart.
Does the club have a signature song?
We don't, really. Our songs come from all sorts of sources; there's one called "Pink Cadillac" that our caller likes, it's kind of fun '50s. There's one that's a church song; we sing along with it. At many dances, we hire a line dance cuer for dances in between the square dance set; at some we have a round dance cuer. People who like to do both don't get much rest that night.
What age group do you target?
It's all ages. Teenagers love to square dance, people in their 20s—we tend to see fewer parents who are busy taking the kids to the ball field.
Do you have to bring a partner?
It's the ideal situation if you can eventually dance with one partner. But if you don't have a partner, we fill in. And if a male shows up without a partner, and a female, it's a match—but I don't mean romantic.
Are you romantic with your partner?
Oh, I am. There are not too many things you do in this world as a couple—square dancing is a "we" thing for my husband Bob and I and that really makes it special. We started about four years ago. Now he's the vice president of the group and acting president, and he does the website for the club and for the state club, too. It wasn't easy getting him to his first lesson, but he had promised me about 40 years before on our honeymoon that "some day" we would square dance. But this is very important: He went reluctantly, but the first words out of his mouth when we left, "That was so much fun, I wish we had started years ago."
The "free taste" is Sept. 4 at 7 p.m. at the Memorial Building in Lenoir City. For more information, littleTsquares.com or call 300-8871.