Author: James R Babcock

Come Join Us for a Virtual Peel the Pumpkin

An opportunity for the LGBTQ+ square dance community to come together and strengthen those friendships through dancing, gaming, socializing, and costuming (…not in this order.) The annual Times Square fly-in weekend is now transformed into a three hour virtual event. Saturday, October 31, 3pm-6pm EDT.

Advanced registration is required to attend this Zoom event. Click the link below to register and receive your individual Zoom link.

Update Peel the Pumpkin 2020

Dear Pumpkin Peeler:We know how much you look forward to our annual fly-in where we celebrate our club and each other, through square-dancing, basket raffles, costume parades, and buffet banquets. The COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll on many aspects of social life and social dancing. Many, many fly-ins have been canceled this year. With much sadness in our hearts and much safety on our minds, we announce that Peel the Pumpkin 2020 has been cancelled.

If you have registered for PTP2020, you will receive another email regarding your registration. A form will be provided to allow you to designate these options: rollover, transfer, donate, or receive a refund. At this time, we can inform you that we are delighted to announce our PTP2021 theme, callers, dates, and location:

Weave the Ring Cycle (A Night At The Opera)
Sandie Bryant, Betsy Gotta, and Anne Uebelacker
October 22-24, 2021
Doubletree Fort Lee

Much appreciation is expressed for your past support. We’re looking forward to your future support and dancing with you again, someday. Please continue to remain safe and healthy.

Times Squares Board of Directors
Peel the Pumpkin Committee

2020 IAGSDC Convention Will Not Be Stopped By COVID-19

A traditional event in the gay square dance world usually takes place over the Fourth of July weekend — the International Association of Gay Square Dance Clubs (IAGSDC) convention. This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the convention to be held in Denver has been transformed into a virtual convention that is conveniently, and safely, accessible from your home.

The Take A Peak 2020 Denver – Home Edition is taking place over two weeks from June 30 to July 12. There will still be Opening & Closing Ceremonies, the Banquet, dancing, discussion groups, and more. View the schedule of virtual events, as you’ll need to pre-register to access them.

If virtual events aren’t your cup of tea, here are some other ways to connect to conventions past:

Check out the IAGSDC History Wiki, where you can find information on every convention held starting with All Join Hands, Seattle 1984.

Take a peek back at all the Times Squares convention club photos going back to 1985. Our club did not attend the first convention in 1984 because the club was not formed yet. Also, there is no 1989 photo because the photographer took the money and ran off without providing the contracted goods. True story! >insert sad face<

One aspect of convention is the pinning of badges of departed members onto the Memorial Panels. While we will have to wait until next year to do this, you can view our updated “In Memoriam” list, and add some remembrances of your own.

You can also support the amazing callers by purchasing an exclusive “Take A Peak Home Edition” t-shirt. Or purchase the standard logo to complete your convention wardrobe collection.

A special thanks to the Take A Peak Committee for taking a lemon of a virus, and turning it into some sweet square dancing lemonade. “See” you in Denver.

Jeopardy! Times Squares/ IAGSDC Edition

As a prelude to the “Take A Peak : Home Edition” convention that begins this week, let’s test your knowledge of Times Squares and IAGSDC history through this time-honored trivia game. Similar to the television show, there will be three rounds – Jeopardy!, Double Jeopardy! and Final Jeopardy!

Kudos to Bob Bauer (Alex Tresbon) and Ping DiBella (Art Flaming) for providing the inspiration, the clues/answers, and acting as hosts. Jim Babcock (Sapphire Cochon) will operate the board. We hope this will take but one hour. Minimal chatter following the answer reveals will help achieve this. After the game is finished, we will have time to reminisce more about our favorite convention memories.

Join us at 6:30pm on our Zoom meeting

Some house rules:

  • Folks who want to play should start to arrive at 6:30pm to be assigned to a team. Team assignments will be made as people join the Zoom meeting.
  • The game begins at 6:45pm sharp. Late arrivals will be welcome to watch, but not answer.
  • Any team member can submit an answer. The first correct answer will be accepted, points awarded to that person’s team, and the team member who answered correctly will choose the next clue. Points will not be deducted for incorrect answers during the Jeopardy and Double Jeopardy rounds, except for Daily Doubles.
  • Answers must be submitted in the form of a question through the chat function. Verbal answers will not be accepted and will result in loss of points for the team of the person who speaks out of turn. 
  • The board will be played out to completion in each round.
  • Daily Doubles will simply be worth double the value posted. No wagering here.
  • After the Jeopardy round, there will be a five minute break while the Double Jeopardy round is set up. The game will resume promptly after five minutes. 
  • After the Double Jeopardy round, there will be another five minute break. During this break, teams will be sent to breakout rooms to make their wagers and choose one person to represent the team in Final Jeopardy. The game will resume promptly after five minutes.
  • When teams return to the main room, each designated player will send their wagers to Jim via private chat.The Final Jeopardy clue will then be revealed, and each designated player will submit their answers to Jim via private chat.
  • Decisions of the hosts are final.

Connecting our Club through “Distant Socializing”

Tue 31 Mar 6:30pm – 9:00pm
“Distant Socializing” via Zoom

In an effort to bring some connection between us, a video group chat is being hosted, via Zoon, so we can see each other and hear our stories of what’s happening in our seclusion. If you have not used Zoom yet, there are a few ways to participate in the video conference.

You can download Zoom to your computer or laptop: On the right side of that page you can click “Sign In” to create a basic account.
You can also download the Zoom app on your phone from the App Store or the Google Play Store. After that, it’s easy to use. Whenever you want to join a Zoom meeting, you click on the meeting link.
Our Tuesday “socializing” link is  

You can also join by landline phone if you aren’t able to use a computer by dialing: 646.558.8656
When prompted for the meeting ID, enter 708 840 728 followed by the # symbol When prompted for the participant ID, just enter the # symbol

You can watch a useful Youtube tutorial video here.

Two points:

  • please mute your microphone when not speaking to minimize the echo effect, which is really distracting
  • the meeting is limited to 100 attendees, but anyone reading this is welcome to stop by and say hi

Dancing Activities On Hiatus

There has been some growing support among dance organizations to cancel events through the use of “social distancing” to reduce the risk of spreading the COVID-19 virus amongst participants. The decision to put our own square dance events on hold has been made for us, due to the closing of PS3 to outside organizations for the remainder of March. This news will be a relief to some, and a disappointment to others. Although we can’t satisfy everyone, we can do our best to keep everyone safe.

Please watch for announcements of new and re-scheduled events for the coming months.

An Unsurpassed Force of Nature at Rest : Emily Doyaga

Emily Doyaga passed away Feb 12, 2020 after a long battle with Alzheimer disease. Mark Doyaga, Emily’s son, announced her passing and the following arrangements:

Wake will be held Friday February 14, 3-8pm
Dahill Funeral Home
2525 65th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11204

Funeral will be held Saturday February 15, 11:30am
St. John Cemetery
80-01 Metropolitan Avenue
Middle Village, NY 11379

In lieu of flowers please donate to the Alzheimer’s Association

Emily was an active member of Times Squares during the 1990s to the bewilderment of Mark, joining the club in 1993. She even attended the 1997 IAGSDC convention in Las Vegas. But we all loved her enthusiasm and fun-loving nature. We miss Emily very much and may she rest in peace.

2020 “State of the Club” Report

04 Jan 2020

Times Squares “State of the Club” Report presented by President Jim Babcock

Thank you all for being here today.  Being present is an important and visible sign of your commitment to this square dance club.

At last year’s meeting, I presented a lot of data about how the club performed, which this year was placed in the January newsletter. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. The abridged version of that data is that in 2019, the club drew in more dancers, increased its membership, offered more opportunities to dance, and had a wider offering of callers than the prior year. One data point I do want to mention is that in 2018, there was a grand total of 1838 attendees; in 2019, a grand total of 2389. This last number is something to which each of you have actively contributed. Thank you for being a source of continuity and growth for the club.

Like many organizations today that are trying to remain viable and draw in new participants, the club underwent changes to make the square dance experience more enjoyable, with the hope that more people attend.  Keep in mind no organization can satisfy everyone; but an attempt to create the widest appeal has been the approach. One such change, turning the Saturday combo dances, like this one, into all-skate dancing resulted in an equal or increased attendance at all of these dances. Yes, a few people disagreed with this format – but if more people overall are coming out, it’s a change that has had a positive effect. Adding the potluck dinners was also met with favorable approval, in addition to be able to dance in an air-conditioned PS3 all year long; something some members have been waiting over 30 years to see happen. Perhaps because of this, the summer club nights saw an increased attendance in June, July, and August.

Another change instituted to increase opportunities for new people to try out square dancing, and maybe fall in love with it as many of us here havedone, was the creation of monthly open houses. Because of these, we were able to bring in more people. You may not have been aware, but each open house was unique. Different calls were taught at each of them, in order to create variety. This is something that has been used at other IAGSDC clubs, notably El Camino Reelers in California.

The change to a Blast weekend for Mainstream instruction also saw something that has been effective with other clubs, notably Chicago’s Chi-Town Squares. Condensing the teaching time to present all the calls in one weekend is challenging, but allows for a focused attention and attendance from students. The downside of this seems to be a decreased attendance by current members on the transformed Tuesday club nights. We’ll talk more about this shortly.

And so, while were able to bring in more people through the doors, we do have the continued challenge of keeping people actively participating after graduation. ON one hand, of the 20 new members in 2019, only 4 are here today.  We also have the continued challenge of promoting ourselves. On the other hand, 3 of the 6 Blast weekend graduates are here. While we do have many social media tools, ie. Facebook, Twitter, Meetup, Instagram, and Youtube, as well as our website, a consistent application of these tools is required. These tools work best when many people participate – kinda like having a full square of 8 dancers instead of three.

Now for something different. Of all the happenings throughout the year, the one I am personally most proud of is the new club t-shirt. An updated identity that allows all the members to appear that they belong to the same club was something on my to-do list when I joined the board of directors in 2018. At last year’s meeting, possible mock-ups were displayed. Ultimately, the committee recommended the t-shirt for its lower cost of production, and ease of re-ordering. Plus, it looks really great. The board did stipulate that a formal club shirt should be developed, and anyone who wants to make that happen is encouraged to form a committee.

In closing, I have to share one last set of data, which highlights our current growth.

In 2019, 15 dancers showed up for our first ‘event’ (a Thursday A2/C1) workshop. This year, there were 24 people.

Our second event, last year’s annual meeting, we had 37 members in attendance. This year, there are 47 members present.

The next event, last year it was a Tuesday MS Finishing class saw 28 people on the dance floor. This year it will be a club night. And the bar has been set for you.

Thank you.

Learn to Square Dance!

Looking for an evening of fun and socializing? Join us for an introduction to square dancing. No partner, experience, special clothing, or dance skill required. If you can walk, you can dance!

Our club, Times Squares, is offering three open houses this winter, on Jan 25, Jan 29, and Feb 05. Come to any or all! You’ll learn the basic moves at any of the sessions, and a few additional moves at each of the three.

Friendly experienced dancers will be there to help out, and we have a fun and talented caller/teacher lined up for the evening. A great time is guaranteed!

If you like it, you’ll have the opportunity to join our beginner’s level classes starting February 12. Classes will run every Tuesday night from 6:30 – 9:30 through May to get you up to Mainstream level. Then you can dance with any square dance club in the world!

Come see why we say “Square Dancing is Friendship set to Music!”

Times Squares is New York’s only LGBTQ* square dance club. We welcome people of all genders and orientations. You don’t have to be LGBTQ* to join — just friendly!

Cost: $10 at the door
Where & When: PS 3, 490 Hudson Street (between Grove and Christopher Street)

  • Fri, Jan 25 7-9pm with Pat Push
  • Tue, Jan 29 7-9pm with Howard Richman
  • Tue, Feb 5 7-9pm with Howard Richman

Virginia Thaler in Square Dance Heaven

Our darling Gina was fatally struck by a car while crossing a street in Millburn, NJ on Monday night (26 Nov.) Our thoughts are with her husband Steve and their family.

Visitation for Virginia (Gina) Thaler is Monday December 3 at the Daniel Schaefer Funeral Home from 10:00 AM to Noon. There will be a private graveside service later in the day. Schaefer Funeral Home is located at 4123 Fourth Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11232.

We will also be lighting a candle in her memory at class/night Tuesday December 4 at PS3.

Here, she is pictured with a smile and her mango juice at her graduation in May.  While she was growing in confidence with the Mainstream level, she always maintained a positive attitude, and an almost perfect attendance. record. We will miss her gentleness.