PHILADELPHIA FEBRUARY 20, 2016. Caller Extra-ordinaire Ken Ritucci was the
Main Truffle at Independence Squares’ (IS) All-Program Dance, 4-8 PM at Church of the Holy
Communion at 2111 Sansom Street (parallel to Chestnut) at 21st. There were often two squares
for MS/Plus with alternating tips through C1. The Pot Luck Dinner Buffet featured tasty
offerings of crock pot fare, sandwiches, pastas, salads and of course, Chocolate!, replete with
chocolate milk. The All-Program Dance/Pot Luck Buffet is a winning formula for IS, with a
theme dance every month, and no one seems to mind that C1 gets scant attention. At times
though, these dances get no MS dancers, and so the program starts at Plus. It’s $10 for almost 4
hours of dancing to top-notch callers, with dinner included. This dance boasted their 2 most
recent MS Class graduates, one from a summer class offering.
IS is a fun Club to dance with and we laughed all through our mistakes – generally the
dance skills are at a high level, being honed by our own Betsy Gotta at the same venue on
Tuesday nights. Ken Ritucci of Colonie NY is one of those rare callers who can make dancing
really engaging for all Programs, propelling us with upbeat contemporary music, innovative
choreography, making calls from conventional positions new again with just the right amount of
quirkiness. One such setup was to call Crossfire from inverted lines – inverted with centers
facing in and ends facing out. The call ends with a wave in the center and 2 outside in-facing
couples. What’s that definition!?
Great music is essential to keeping square dancing relevant. Some callers obviously use
vinyl-to-digital transfer recordings, or even to call over the vocals on the original arrangement,
which (to me) offer less than the ideal sound quality. But Ken’s music SOUNDS good, and
gets your feet moving before he utters a word, and all his selections have a contemporary bent.
A few times I didn’t want to dance Mainstream, but the music was SO good, I couldn’t resist –
the music made me want to move.
The Author was the only Times Squares member in attendance, with a few folks from a
South Jersey Club with all else IS members. The dance space is nice – big enough for up to 5
squares at past dances. It’s a newly renovated brightly lit, wooden-floored, public space at the
back entrance of the Church, within easy walking distance of the 30th St. Station. It’s right down
Market, over the Bridge, to 21st Street and one block over. If you’re not driving, the City of
Brotherly Love is convenient by NJ Transit, Amtrak, and by Bolt Bus, Megabus and Greyhound.
The next All-Program Dance MS-C2 with Independence Squares is Saturday March 12th
with Tom Miller and special guest Betsy Gotta for C2 tips. There are monthly dances through
July 2016, resuming in September. The Annual Glitter Ball in December is the Club’s high
energy Holiday Dance, and their well attended Fly In is April 1st through 3rd in Wilmington DE.
IS won the 2019 bid for the IAGSDC Convention in Philadelphia.