Swing your partner

There will be plenty of opportunities for swinging your partner ’round and ’round and do-si-do maneuvers next Saturday in the City Park in Garrison. The Minot Magic Squares, North Dakota’s newest square dance club, is sponsoring a free square dance festival from 1 to 5 p.m. with callers Doc Brooks and Mel Diers who will both be calling at the festival.

Also, the festival will be held rain or shine. In case of rain, the dance will be moved to the Garrison City Auditorium. All square dancers of all levels are welcome. The festival will also be an alcohol-free event.

Square dancing is the official folk dance of North Dakota. The Minot Magic Squares is the only square dance club in the state that offers lessons for adults and a fast-track session of lessons for high school and college students. Practices are held at the Minot Moose Lodge on Monday night at 7:30.

Square dance lessons are also a requirement for Minot State University physical education majors, and Minot Magic Squares president Nikki Paulsen said a session of lessons that took place from January to April this past year. “We try to have dances twice a month,” she noted. “When we’re in the middle of a session, we only have one dance a month, though.” The lessons last for 12 weeks and are about two hours long, Paulsen explained, and the dances last two to two-and-a-half hours. The caller is like a DJ, she continued, so the music depends on what the caller chooses. “It’s usually more classic country, but also ’40s big band to modern music.”

Paulsen said the thought was to have a festival in a place between Minot and Bismarck, since Bismarck’s square dance club was a big help with Minot’s club, and so Garrison was chosen as the site. Also, McKaila Matteson, from the Garrison Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, was a good resource and very helpful, she continued.

This is the first time the Minot Magic Squares has had a festival and Paulsen said they are learning as they go as well as learning from other clubs.

At the square dance festival, Paulsen said there will be two callers as well as open mike times for people wanting to try their hand at calling out square dance moves. There will be dancing sessions called tips, she explained, where the caller explains the cues to the dancers, and sessions where the caller will sing the directions to the dancers. People can try square dancing at the festival, too, Paulsen added, as the event is open to beginners and experts. “Most square dancers are pretty laid back and it’s a lot of fun,” Paulsen remarked.

If someone is looking for an inviting social activity and physical activity, Paulsen said, then the upcoming square dance festival is a good place to start. Square dancing is a fun activity, too, she added.

One thing to note, Paulsen said, is that while many dancers enjoy wearing the traditional square dance outfits, people are encouraged to wear any kind of clothing that they feel comfortable wearing. “Square dancers are an agreeable group,” she added.

There will be something for everyone at the square dancing festival, Paulsen said. For more information about the festival or about how to swing your partner, people are encouraged to call Minot Magic Squares presidents Gene or Nikki Paulsen at 839-0755.