One of the greatest things about calling square dances is
that there are highlights all time. It's always a great kick
to see first time dancers amaze themselves by "getting"
the Right and Left Grand, or the elegant Grand Square. It's
a kick watching hot-shot club dancers helping each other through
something insanely difficult like Relay The Deucey, Boys
righty, Girls lefty and letting loose with a triumphant
whoop at its successful finish. And then there are all those
picture postcards I find myself in, just because I live in Sonoma
county calling to a circle of dancers on a hilltop overlooking
a vineyard-covered valley, leading a line dance under a full
moon on a farmhouse lawn beside an orchard...
But for special dances, memorable in one way or another...
First would have to be reconnecting with my
mentor, Bill Peters and working with him at the first Maui
square dance festival I called. I have more about this in my
section on Bill.
Charlie Schulz of Peanuts fame danced with me once, at a benefit
held at his Snoopy Ice Arena in Santa Rosa. He got up for a
large circle mixer, where each man gets to dance with many different
women and they progress around the circle. Mr. Schulz danced
in true Charlie Brown style, staring at his feet the entire
During the same circle mixer at a large family reunion at a
resort in Glen Ellen we were hit with significant earthquake
(5 point-something) in the middle of the dance. Most of the
dancers couldn't tell, but the folks on the sidelines had no
doubt. One them checked her palm pilot and announced at the
end of the dance, "WE are the epicenter!" It was actually
about two miles away.
Then there's the dance I did for an association of rural gay
men at a rustic Lake County resort. I knew I was in for something
out of the ordinary when I passed a sign on the way in that
read "No Nudity Beyond This Point"! Yes, many men
in their birthday suits, many in black lingerie, others more
modestly attired in western wear, and one quick change artist
with his own boxful of frocks.
I did a dance for the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra with
Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Boxer and former Secretary of State George
Schultz in attendance. The Honorable Mr. Schultz was my most
enthusiastic Virginia Reeler, but he kept taking a series of
outrageous front-cuts to position himself and his wife as the
head couple after every sequence. I reprimanded him several
times, but I think he was having too much fun to notice.
Shortest dance I ever did was for a wedding in Rohnert Park.
Scheduled before me on the program was the belly-dancing and
hard liquor portion of the event. By the time I went on, only
the bride and I were sober enough to stand, much less dance.
And she was really ticked off!
The City of Oakland had me call at their 150th anniversary,
in a beautifully restored historic section of the city, and
then-Mayor Jerry Brown gave a little speech on my microphone.
I regret to say I never made a dent in his resolve not to dance,
Then there's the dance I do each year for the Star of Sea School
on Geary Boulevard, in San Francisco, always lots of fun and
sky high energy! But one year, just as we were getting going
with the dancing, we were hit with a blackout. Picture the scene:
basement lunchroom, pitch black, stone walls, and then the little
kids started screaming... No Exit!
I called a 90th birthday party for a friend and long-time club
dancer, a very active affair with a folk dance instructor as
well as me leading dances, and we discovered that the birthday
boy was only the fifth oldest person there!