The Checkerboard Squares is offering introductory square dancing lessons in Cedar Hall at MetraPark beginning Thursday, Jan. 12 and continuing each Thursday through April.
Caller Bob Hogemark will teach on Thursdays from 6:45 until 7:30 p.m., followed by a dance with the club.
The first two sessions, Jan. 12 and 19, are free.
Square dancing is America’s folk dance, evolving from the French quadrille variations of the urban settlements and the Scots-Irish, English and African-influenced Appalachian music and dances of the more isolated reaches of the colonies.
Traditional square dancing still exists today, along with a form called modern square dancing. The modern variation was developed in the mid-20th century to standardized square dance calls.
Modern square dancing has been welcomed by such countries as England, Germany, Japan and the Scandinavian countries. All square dancing is taught and called in English.
In Billings, one dance couple from Germany was on a mission to square dance in each of the 50 states and others included a tour bus full of English square dancers on a coast-to-coast U.S. tour and a contingent of Canadian “groupies” of a caller featured at the annual Big Sky Roundup each September.
The annual Knothead Jamboree in West Yellowstone has also been known to attract foreign dancers who participate while visiting Yellowstone Park.
Square dancing has a long history in Billings. From churches and schools to the YMCA, Billings Saddle Club, Ray’s Barn, the Shiloh Barn and currently Cedar Hall at MetraPark, Billings has always had an enthusiastic population of square dancers.
Callers Bob Hogemark of Park City, Lynn Strobel of Miles City and, occasionally, Steve Lassiter of Cody, Wyo., keep the dancers’ feet flying. A talented young homegrown caller, Hunter Keller, has recently returned to town and no doubt will be adding his voice to the mix.
Square dancing exercises the body and mind. It consists of concentration and split-second reactions to calls; dancers are always moving, not knowing what is coming next.