Category Archives: Uncategorized

Clear Sailing to Fun Dancing

 

Overheard at our recent dance:

“I forgot how much fun it is to be surrounded by squares and dance in a full hall.”

 

 

It was all hands on deck as Times Squares hosted a Bon Voyage dance for a group of dancers from California the night before they set sail on a Fall Foliage cruise up the east coast to Halifax, Nova Scotia. The trip’s organizer, square dance caller David Mee, and four squares of travelers joined us for the dance. David offered to call, and it’s always great to dance to a new caller. His calling was challenging without being overwhelming and he has a great singing voice. We hope he returns to New York soon, so we can dance to him again.

Kudos to George Voorhis for all his hard work to make this event such a success. The hall was decorated beautifully with bon voyage banners and luggage with stickers from far off destinations. And the cake was delicious.

New Hours and Location Agree with Summer Dancers

Weekly dance instruction is good for the spirit. But what’s a dancer to do when classes are over? Keep dancing, of course!

And so, our semi-monthly summer dances have begun, with a change in venue and time. For four Tuesdays, we are dancing on the 6th floor conference room of the Lenox Health Greenwich Village medical facility. Folks are making the best of the carpeting, kicking up their heels and kicking off their shoes if necessary. Betsy Gotta called on Jun 12, and Howard Richman called for our Rainbow Pride club night on the 26th.

Howard Richman, our own Rhinestone Caller.

We are starting, and finishing, 30 minutes earlier, which also makes for happy dancers. 7:00-9:00pm seems just the right time for getting enough dancing in without folks trickling out.  We hope the momentum continues throughout the summer.

If you haven’t danced with us this summer, your next chance is July 17 when Don Moger from Montreal will be calling. Be there AND be square.

Dancing at Lenox

Toronto’s Triangle Squares hosts Pearl Promenade Fly-in

Pearls, Pearls, and more Pearls

Times Squares members Bill Wolff, Kian-Lam Kho and I attended Triangle Squares’ “Pearl Promenade” fly-in over Memorial Day in Toronto. Everyone was very friendly and we had great fun dancing to Vic Ceder and Don St. Jean, their club caller.

What really impressed me were the decorations. It was a weekend of pearls, pearls, and more pearls. The gym at the school where we danced was cut in half with one door leading to one hall and the adjacent door to the other. The doors were decorated like St. Peter’s pearly gates and you were ushered into square dance heaven by one of the angelic callers. The gym walls themselves were painted with silhouettes of athletes who wore pearl accessories for the weekend.

The Pearly Gates

In the hallway there was a photo spot where you could dress up like the Girl with the Pearl Earring by the Dutch Golden Age painter,  Johannes Vermeer.

The Girl (?) with the Pearl Earring

DREAM 2018

Over one hundred dancers attended DREAM 2018 (Dancers Recruiting Educating and Motivating) sponsored by the NNJSDA last Saturday. Six Times Squares members attended including Susan G., Marshall B., Jeff E., Peter S., Kian K. and me. There were also three dancers from our sister club in Philadelphia, Independence Squares.

I attended two workshops. The first was given by Roy Gotta and addressed ways to talk “up” square dancing. When he gave examples of how we often talk about our activity to non-dancers, I cringed a little because that’s exactly how I talk. When he rephrased what we often say, I was amazed at how much more positive it sounded! The other session I attended was about Graduation and Graduation Ceremonies. The presenter shared an online article, Abandoning Graduation Ceremonies, that suggested that we do away with graduation ceremonies altogether as it gives new dancers a convenient opportunity to stop dancing. One club in the NNJSDA has its graduation ceremony three weeks before the last class so that the dancers have to come back to finish the lessons.

 

Learn How to Help Your Club at DREAM 2018

If you care about the fate of Times Squares, but don’t know what to do, here’s an opportunity to learn how to help. The Northern New Jersey Square Dance Association is hosting a day of seminars and workshops entitled: DREAM 2018 – Dancers Recruiting, Educating, And Motivating. The workshops start at 1 PM on Saturday, May 5th in Clark, NJ and will be followed by an evening of dancing with callers Mike Kellogg, from California, and our own Betsy Gotta. Click here for full details.

 

Many of the workshops directly address issues crucial to the fate of our club. For example, Retaining Your Dancers and the Social Aspects of Square Dancing (Beyond the Dance Floor) will discuss how you balance activities for both new and seasoned dancers that build social relationships crucial to continued growth. With so many things to do in New York City, retention is a big concern for our club.

 

Do you ever get strange looks when you mention that you square dance? Talking “Up” Square Dancing, will share strategies for encouraging friends and colleagues to take lessons and join a club.

 

Enticing Club Members to Become Leaders. Many clubs have folded despite good attendance and a healthy treasury because no one wants to help run the club. Learn how to reframe the tasks so that dancers don’t arrive as the first tip starts and leave just before cleanup. As Times Squares’ membership shrinks so does the number of dancers willing to lead the club.

 

To Graduate or Not: Alternatives and Solutions is a roundtable discussion of approaches to respectfully handling the faithful new dancers who may not be “ready to launch” at the conclusion of the lessons. A struggling graduate is more likely to drop out than continue.

If you’ve decided to take a more active role in supporting Times Squares this is the perfect opportunity to learn more about the issues surrounding our club’s survival. If you need transportation or want to register, please contact Warren Livesley at wlivesley@gmail.com.

New Board of Directors Elected for 2018

A new board of directors was elected at our annual meeting on January 6th. Congratulations to all the new board members and we look forward to a great year. Find out more about them here:

Jim Babcock, President

Although I’ve only been dancing with Times Squares for one year, I’ve been contra dancing for nearly all of the 21st century. I find dancing rewarding, not just for the physical activity, but for the social interactions. I’ve found Times Squares to be a very friendly social group. I wish I had joined sooner!

As a board member, I will bring to my work there my experience with other dance and musical organizations to further the common good of our club. That experience includes being an event organizer for a New England LGBT dance club and a volunteer coordinator for a New York City contra dance series. I also serve on the Times Squares Peel the Pumpkin 2018 committee, where I designed the event’s flyer and t-shirt.

Outside of volunteering and dancing, I work at Columbia University Libraries, keeping the world bibliographically safe as a database and technical services manager in the Science, Engineering, and Social Science Division. I also find time for graphic design projects and genealogical research (ask me about my DNA!). I would appreciate your vote.

Jeff Eisner, Treasurer

I have been square dancing for about five years now. I joined because a friend of mine had already joined. He enjoyed it, and I enjoy it. I dance at the Plus level, and Tuesday night  Plus classes, monthly club dances, and the yearly Peel the Pumpkin fly-in are events I look forward to.

I’ve been an accountant my entire working life, and the club’s treasurer since March 2017. I would like to continue in this capacity. There is more to being treasurer than one might think. It’s not just collecting money at Times Squares’ events, but keeping track of the club’s overall financial picture. Each month at the board meeting I present a brief report on the club’s finances for that month, which includes breaking down the information by category of funds received and funds spent, to help the board make decisions about the club’s current and future needs.

Warren Livesley, Secretary

For three years I served as the secretary of the Times Squares board, and this past year I served as the club’s president. I also continue to be a delegate to the Northern New Jersey Square Dance Association. We are in the process of codifying the procedures for operation of the club so everyone will know how it runs and what will be expected of them when they volunteer to work at different events.

Michael Coan, Member-at-Large

I have always believed in the greatness of of this activity, seeing it as much more than merely learning some movements and moving (hopefully) to the beat of the music and caller. Square dancing embodies much more, and to loosely paraphrase a famous line: [it] has always relied upon the kindness of [not so strange] strangers.

We come to this form of social interaction as relative strangers, but leave each class and dance with a sense of accomplishment. We also develop some great new friendships, and learn that with a bit of instruction and some help from our new dance friends we can have a great time with those friends.

I love the fact that I’m part of this great activity. I’ve served on the Times Squares board for many years now, and wish to continue to serve the club in that capacity as we continue to promote the “greatness” that is square dancing.

Howard Handler, Member-at-Large

I first came to Times Squares two years ago. Over the past two years I have found that not only do I enjoy square dancing but very much but I have been deeply pleased by the warmth and friendship that everyone in Times Squares has shown to me and to other newcomers. I continue to attend almost every single Tuesday and weekend dance. I have also had a great time at several fly-ins.

Recently a member of Times Squares encouraged me to join the board. It never occurred to me until then that the board might need my participation. Since I enjoy Times Squares so much, I would be honored to give back something by joining the board.

Alan Teicher, Member-at-Large

I joined Times Squares in 1987. I previously worked at a job where my co-workers provided a built-in social life, and so after several years I stopped active square dancing, although I remained a member of the club. Now retired, I have more time and have returned to dancing, taking the Advanced class and workshops as they are offered. One of my fondest memories of my earlier time with the club is taking a new class. The dancing mistakes we all made at the time were frustrating, but we looked at them with a sense of humor and laughed at ourselves for making them. It was a tremendous amount of fun. Now, many years later, it’s still a lot of fun, and laughs come from things other than  making mistakes! The club has given me so much, and so much to many others. I look forward to helping Times Squares grow and remain a vital part of all our lives.

Jonathan Uejio, Member-at-Large

I have been coming to Times Squares classes and dances since my wife dragged me to one of its barn dances a little over three years ago. Since then, I’m no longer dragged to classes and events because I’ve discovered just how much I enjoy square dancing. The two of us have been faithful attendees at classes and workshops, have learned the Mainstream, Plus, and Advanced levels (although some people might dispute us having learned Advanced!). I hope to start learning the Challenge level next year.

I’d like to give back something for all the fun we’ve had over the last three years by serving on the board. I’m a lawyer by trade, so I would bring that knowledge to the board. But I think more importantly I’m an enthusiastic dancer who wants to help this club grow and flourish in these tough times.

Yale GALA joins Times Squares for a fun dance on January 26th

Pat Push

Join Yale GALA, Inc. (Yale University’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Alumni Association) and Times Squares for a fun night of modern western square dancing and socializing, with lesbian caller, Pat Push, who will have you dancing and swinging from the moment the music begins.  Pat was a long-time member of Times Squares and it will be great fun to have her back with us again calling. Doors open at 7:00 PM and dancing starts at 7:30 PM.

This is not your grandmother’s square dancing. Forget everything you might have heard about dancing in fusty old barns.With us you don’t need any previous experience, a partner, or any special clothes. You can also forget the old time music, as you’re likely to dance to the likes of Lady Gaga. It’s a laid-back, low stress night to relax and have lots of laughs.

Boxer Day Dance – December 26, 2017

The holiday season is not over until the members of Times Squares get to don their boxer shorts and show a little leg. Four squares had a great time dancing to Howard Richman’s lively calling to exercise away some of those extra calories we all put on at this time of year.

Here’s an interesting take on the night’s theme. A t-shirt with a “boxer” dog.

Independence Squares Celebrates the Holiday with their Glitter Ball

For the first time in many years a full square of Times Squares dancers traveled to Philadelphia for Independence Squares’ holiday dance, The Glitter Ball. Our members ranged the full gamut from Mainstream to C-1, and no matter what level they danced everyone had a great time. Dayle Hodge was at his peak and did some fancy calling that was fast and fun.

The Philly club has decided offer pot luck dinners only at special events like this one. The food was abundant and there was a vast array of desserts. I tried everything that had even a hint of chocolate. Sharing a meal is such a good way to meet new people and spend quality time with old friends.  Maybe Times Squares should try to reinstitute a pot luck event once or twice a year.

If you want to become a really good dancer, you need to have floor time to perfect your skills. This is one of the best fun ways to improve. As the holidays roll around next year, think about asking one of the dancers who attended this year if you can go with them. I know there was space for more people in the cars that went down last Saturday night. And they still charge only  $10 admission!

Independence Squares Celebrates the Holiday with their Glitter Ball

For the first time in many years a full square of Times Squares dancers traveled to Philadelphia for Independence Squares’ holiday dance, The Glitter Ball. Our members ranged the full gamut from Mainstream to C-1, and no matter what level they danced everyone had a great time. Dayle Hodge was at his peak and did some fancy calling that was fast and fun.

The Philly club has decided offer pot luck dinners only at special events like this one. The food was abundant and there was a vast array of desserts. I tried everything that had even a hint of chocolate. Sharing a meal is such a good way to meet new people and spend quality time with old friends.  Maybe Times Squares should try to reinstitute a pot luck event once or twice a year.

If you want to become a really good dancer, you need to have floor time to perfect your skills. This is one of the best fun ways to improve. As the holidays roll around next year, think about asking one of the dancers who attended this year if you can go with them. I know there was space for more people in the cars that went down last Saturday night. And they still charge only  $10 admission!