Author: James R Babcock

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.

Remembering “Curlique” Pauline Plummer

It is with tremendous sadness that we announce the passing of Pauline Jeanette Plummer, Thursday, August 23 at 10:45pm, after a valiant fight against cancer. Our condolences to her family and friends.

She was a long time member of Times Squares, since 1988, and was responsible for the P.O.R. Boutique (Peel Off and Recycle) fundraiser for our Peel the Pumpkin fly-in for many years. She will be greatly missed, not only for her warmth and personality, but her divine outfits which she made herself. “Curlique”, dance up a storm, and rest in peace.

Funeral details:

Wake: Fri Sep 7 4-8pm
Funeral: Sat Sep 8 9am viewing ; 10 am funeral
Repast to follow.

Location: First United Methodist Church 227 E Lincoln Ave, Mount Vernon, New York 10552

Mass Transit Directions: Board a New Haven bound train, stopping at Mount Vernon East. From there it is an 11 minute walk (0.6 mile) : walk along Elm Ave, turn left onto Rich Ave for five blocks, then right onto E Lincoln Ave. Check Google Maps for more directions.

Remembrances from our members:

“For all of those who cared about Pauline and cared for Pauline. For those who danced with Pauline and paid attention to Pauline. For all those who made a fuss over Pauline and told her she was beautiful (and she was). For all of those who understood the high standards that Pauline had for dress and style. For all of those who stood behind her while she performed. God bless you all because you gave her what she needed and what she earned. Love. Respect. Friendship. Community. A special shout out to Gabriel Rivas-Brito, who always brought out the best in Pauline.” — David Kampel

“Pauline loved a party. Invite her, and she was there — always looking glam with beautifully coiffed hair, perfectly made-up, dressed to the nines. She had a standard that she always kept to.

Some years ago I hosted a party for friends of mine who were visiting from Australia. The food came from Zabars. Pauline approved. The food was served on disposable plates along with disposable glasses and eating utensils. Pauline did not approve.

With a look of disappointment at my faux pas, Pauline went into the kitchen and helped herself to a china plate, a crystal glass, and a silver fork. She helped herself to some of the food, poured herself a glass of champagne (Veuve Cliquot, which she brought to the party already chilled) then took herself over to the most comfortable seat.

Pauline was back where she belonged. Her standards were met. The party could now begin!” — Edward Sherman

“As Honky Tonk Queen Mum, I knew Pauline for many years. She was always available for absolutely anything. She was big, brash and impossible to embarrass. I’ve noticed some people reminiscing about her performance of Push De Button, which was a song I recommended to her after her magnificent Let’s Get This Party Started. She loved it and I loved watching her perform it. It is hard to believe that all of that love, energy and enthusiasm is gone … and way too soon.” — Bob Young

“She was always fun to be with and could put a smile on my face without any effort (and often lipstick, too).” — Bob Fitterman

“Pauline’s smiling face and warm hello made every event she attended always MORE enjoyable. As you all might remember, my mother, Emily, joined Times Squares dancing for several years. You all embraced her so lovingly into the TS family. But as you can imagine, sometimes it was intimidating for her, and not just because of the speed at which we used to dance. The year the convention was in Las Vegas, my mother was considering joining us. Even I was concerned about her being comfortable. Who knows, she might accidentally wander into the moonshine tip! Pauline overheard me expressing my concern, and she assured me that she would not only share a room with my mother, but that she would also keep my mother safe. And true to her word, she took my mother under her wing, and they both had a fantastic time, throughout the convention. This might have been one of the last really fun activities my mother enjoyed, before her Alzheimer’s started to affect her. Whenever I told my mother about TS events, she always asked about Pauline. I know we will all miss Pauline very much. ” — Mark Doyaga

“Leslie and I remember Pauline for her friendship, generosity and enthusiasm in everything she did, she was a wonderful ambassador for the Times Squares. We will greatly miss her at the square dance conventions, her pride in leading us in the grand march, our early morning gatherings for early bird convention registration, participating in her fabulous convention performances and costume preparations for Peel the Pumpkin. “Get the party started” was truly her theme song.” — Daniel Savitt

“As a veteran square dancer, I wish to express the loss I feel for the passing of Pauline Plummer. She was loved by many, many square dance club members. Words that come to mind that I feel would accurately describe her would be: warm, loving, abundant and cheerful amongst other traits. She always greeted everyone with a cheerful smile and hugs. A warm greeting for all was just so natural for Pauline. We will all miss her very much.” — Mario Pecunia

Some remembrances from Facebook:

“She was a wonderful kind person. May she dance for eternity with the angels.” — Heidi Auerbacher

“My heart goes out to her family, both by birth and by IAGSDC, Bob Young especially. Curlique will never be forgotten. She was loved by all, was always a pleasure to have in a square and on the Fun Badge Tour, and was a never ending source of enthusiasm and love. We will miss her terribly. Pauline: give ‘em hell in Heaven!” — Ett McAtee

“She had such a bubbly personality everytime I had the pleasure of seeing her & dancing with her in a square. I’m going to miss that!” — Ann Balint Rothfuss

“She was my inspiration when helping Erick Blakely (Mz Freeda) & directed Gary Dougan & I to coordinate a local charity for her fundraising number in PS. Such a joy to work with and dance with. She taught me all the other stuff during a Convention was meaningless…just have fun…let it go. Thank you Mz Curlicue for all of your joy & inspiration. See you on the dance floor in another realm.” — Jim Francis

“Oh no. This so sad to hear. Pauline brightened every room she came in and brightened the day of everyone she talked to. We share in the heartbreak of Times Squares members.” — Steve Johnson

“Pauline was such a lady of grace AND camp! She befriended me on the Atlanta FBT and I always looked forward to her smile and rolling laugh. Let us carry the best of her with us each day, each dance.” — Rahn Anderson

Pauline, you VIBRANT woman : poem by Jennifer Cherry

Dearest Pauline, you VIBRANT woman,
you lift us up.
With your contagious smile and joyful soul,
you lift us up.
Your effervescent laughter that fills the room,
you lift us up.
Through your free-spirited dance, ‘Curlicue’,
you lift us up.
Inspired by your impeccable style and artistic flair,
you lift us up.
Always offering a helping hand because you care,
you lift us up.
And when we’re faced with challenge, sadness, or pain,
you lift us up.
With these seven verses we’ve only just begun,
but the Lord recognized his masterpiece was done.
So as heaven’s gates open to welcome you in,
And their caller shouts “Square up”, we’ll see you grin.
We rejoice in the memories that we will treasure,
and the lesson to live each moment, for good measure.
Know that you have forever changed our lives,
touched our hearts, enhanced our minds,
your youthful energy turned back time.
With acts of kindness, selflessness, imparting wisdom along the way,
exuding confidence and resilience through your strong faith.
Pauline, you VIBRANT woman, the bells do chime,
Now let US lift YOU up this final time.

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