Participants at a recent Fairs ‘n Squares gathering prepare to swing into action in Framingham Centre. Fairs ‘n Squares, which is in its 50th year, is a square dancing and round dancing club that is open to both experienced and new learners of square dance.
“We have dancers from 40 to 90,” said Susan Sullivan, 74, from Sudbury, vice president of Fairs ’n Squares. “Some people have been square dancing for a year, or for 32, like me,” said Sullivan,“It’s not heavy exercise. It’s just walking.” Next
Square dancing may seem outdated to some, but Steve Park (pictured here) of Natick has taken action. Park is the caller, the person who picks the music and instructs the dancers during each session. He has diversified the music over the years, mixing in country western, blues, disco, even Lady Gaga.
“The goal is to get kids and young adults interested,” said Park. Park leads a Fairs 'n Squares square dance club gathering which meets at the First Parish in Framingham. Fairs ’n Squares also coordinates with clubs throughout the state to promote the activity. Next
President Eugene Saltsgaver of Maynard is pictured dancing with Vice President Susan Sullivan, of Sudbury.
Square-dancing enthusiasts are trying to keep the activity alive into the next generation. The pool has dwindled considerably.
“When I started in 1980 there was a square dancing group in every town,” said Saltsgaver. “We used to dance two, three times a week. We’ve got to get young people involved.”
For the regulars, square dancing is on the front burner of their lives. “It’s an indoor sport,” said Sullivan. “You can do it even if there’s a blizzard.” Next
Gerda Chalfin of Framingham and Bob Banks of Salem, are pictured dancing.
Chalfin, 68, was nursing a bruised rib and getting antsy for something to keep her busy in the meantime. “I thought I’d try square dancing until the rib healed, and I got hooked. I was happy as soon as the music started. I think women pick it up faster. But no one cares if you make a mistake. It’s a very forgiving society.”
Chalfin dances three times a week now. Next
President Eugene Saltsgaver twirls a new participant, Maria Lesser, through the lesson.
“I’m retired, and I was looking for something that was fun and challenging,” said Maria Lesser of Sudbury. “I didn’t think my husband would like it. He said ‘I’ll try it, but I may not stay.’ He comes every time now. He dances better than me.”
Sheldon Lesser is a fit 75. “You learn a new step every week. If you make a mistake, the caller will have you do it again until you get it.” Next
Once they swing and do-si-do, square dancers are hooked
His role keeps Park, who is pictured in the back calling a dance during Fairs ‘n Squares class last month in Framingham Centre, busy. Park is also a member of the Old Colony Callers Association.
“I’m out five nights a week. Thursdays I teach here,” he said.
There’s no telling who will grasp square dancing easier, he reports. “I’ve had engineers and doctors not pick it up as fast as truck drivers.” Next
For people who want to give square dancing a whirl, classes will begin again on Jan. 10, and take place most Thursdays from 7:30 to 9 p.m. in First Parish’s Scott Hall, at 24 Vernon St. in Framingham Centre. The group also hosts dances roughly once a month.
Saltsgaver breaks down the charm of square dancing this way: “You get to dance with every girl in the room, and every dance starts with a hug. Can’t go wrong with that.”
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below