Friday, August 18, 2017

Chesapeake Squares: Open House, August 29th

Written by  Mae Ophelia Peterson

Are you looking for something new and different to do with yourself, something both physically and mentally challenging, that gets you out of the house and up on your feet, involves connecting with other people, allows you to be yourself and provides a lot of fun and joy? Then make plans to come to Chesapeake Squares’ Open House Party on Tuesday night, August 29th. Come try your hand– or more likely, your feet– at Modern Western Square Dancing. It’s not the square dancing of your parents or grandparents, with bolo ties and crinolines (unless you want to wear them!) but a come-as-you-are / be-who-you-want activity that’s danced to a variety of popular music from yesterday and today.

Chesapeake Squares is Baltimore’s friendly LGBTQ square dance club for everyone. The club was founded in 1986. Members gather every Tuesday evening throughout the year at the Waxter Center in the Mount Vernon area of Baltimore City to socialize and dance to live callers and recorded music. Chesapeake Squares is a member organization of the International Association of Gay Square Dance Clubs, which has over 60-member clubs in countries around the world. In addition to dancing in one’s hometown, there are “fly-ins” held over weekends in different cities all around the US where members can go to dance and make new friends. Chesapeake Squares has hosted its own fly-in, “Pass the Ocean, Hon!” in Rehoboth Beach for over 30 years.

Square dancing is made up of many different “calls,” or directions for how eight people – four couples – move around a square. A caller’s job is to direct those eight people through a series of intricate patterns, bringing them back to their original starting locations after 15 minutes of brisk physical and mental activity. The calls are divided into levels and dancers attend classes to learn calls associated with specific levels. Everyone starts with the basic Mainstream calls and one can continue dancing the Mainstream level for the rest of one’s dancing life. Other dancers may move on to the levels of Plus, Advanced, and beyond.

One of the things that is special about LGBTQ square dance clubs is that everyone is welcome to dance and each person can choose whether to learn what is traditionally the boy’s part or the girl’s part – the lead or the follow, the beau or the belle – and many people eventually learn to dance both roles. There is no dress code – participants dress for comfort. Both singles and couples are welcome. If you don’t provide your own dancing partner, you will find one – or several – when you show up to dance. You don’t have to identify as LGBTQ to dance with Chesapeake Squares. Dancing is open to all.

Chesapeake Squares will be starting a Beginners’ Class on September 12th, and the club is hosting an Open House Party so interested people can come and see what today’s LGBTQ square dancing is all about. The Open House Party will take place on Tuesday night, August 29th at the Waxter Center (1000 Cathedral Street, at the corner of Eager Street). There’s free parking in the lot adjacent to the building; entry is from Tyson Street. The doors open at 7 pm with dancing starting promptly at 7:30 and ending at 8:45. No experience is necessary. No partner is required. Singles are welcome, as are couples or triples or groups of friends. Refreshments will be provided. And the event is free. Come prepared to learn new ways to move, to meet new friends, and to laugh, and have fun.

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