By Katie Benfield
A group of locals in the High Country have been taking part in a Western square dancing club called the “Mountain Mixers” for the last 30 years. They have dances every Sunday with a different caller every time, including National Callers that travel all over the country for square dancing, and you’re welcome to join them this summer at Linville Land Harbor.
They participate in Western square dancing, which incorporates a set of eight people set up in a square, directed by a caller. The caller will instruct the dancers, declaring different positions (dosey doe, swing your partner, square right) until each person ends up where they began.
Larry Miles, a dance coordinator for the Mountain Mixers, feels that the fellowship and exercise that comes with Western square dancing are the best parts about it.
“It’s a mental thing,” Miles said. “It keeps your mind active and your body active. Some of us are fairly older, and your doctor will tell you square dancing is the best exercise for you.”
Sharon Cassidy, secretary for Mountain Mixers, agreed.
“It’s good fun with other people and you get a lot of exercise,” she said. “It’s like walking four miles in one day!”
The club used to have somewhere around 150 members, but recently the count has been down to 25 or 30. They are always open for new members, and they teach all different levels of square dancing, ranging from Mainstream to A-1 or A-2.
“I’ve done it for years,” Cassidy said. “My husband and I are up to A-1 and A-2 levels now. The Challenge level is next.”
According to Miles, it’s a very wonderful thing to participate in for more reasons than one.
“Comradery, dressing up, it’s fun,” Miles stated. “We have square dancing all over the world.”
Taking part in Western square dancing isn’t just fun because of the exercise that both your mind and body get, but you also get to witness square dancing attire. For the ladies, this means dresses with crinolines and the like, and for the men, this means matching suits and long-sleeved shirts.
“No matter what it is, it’s colorful,” Miles said. “Very colorful and beautiful! It’s neat!”
Miles explained that, while most of the time it’s casual dress as mentioned above, sometimes there are a lot of die-hard square dancers that will wear very traditional attire.
Cassidy mentioned that in the mountains they tend to prefer prairie skirts.
A-2 square dancing, which stands for Advanced 2, takes place every Monday evening from 7:30-9:30 p.m. until September 29. Jerry Biggerstaff will be the caller on these nights.
Preceding the dancing will be a workshop from 7-7:30 p.m., caller’s choice. On Wednesdays, from 7-9 p.m., there will be Advanced Square Dancing workshops, featuring the club’s resident caller, Ron Libby.
The next dance will occur on Sunday, July 10 with Ron Libby as caller.
“Come and enjoy the fun,” Cassidy said. “Exercise and commitment, that’s what it’s all about.”
Click here for more information about Mountain Mixers and how to get involved.