Pickerington Times-Sun

Friendly Ties building bonds with square dancing

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Friendly Ties Western Square Dance Club members celebrate Cinco De Mayo in the Pickerington Senior Center Sunday, May 4.

If at first glance one thinks Western-style square dancing is an elaborate mix of synchronized movements and choreography, they would be correct.

Different from traditional or "hoedown" square dancing, Western-style requires strict adherence to the directives of a "caller" who tells the dancers just what to do on the floor.

Members of the Pickerington-based Friendly Ties Square Dancing Club were out in full force Sunday, May 4, in the festively decorated Pickerington Senior Center.

Many of the club's dancers wore traditional Mexican-themed clothing and costumes an ode to the celebration of Cinco De Mayo.

The celebrations on May 5 in Mexico and the United States commemorate the victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla May 5, 1862, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguin.

A common misbelief is that it is Mexico's Independence Day, which is celebrated Sept. 16.

Friendly Ties is a western-style square dance club that meets two times a month at the Senior Center.

It also gives lessons there for those that want to learn the dance's intricate movements and have some fun in the process.

"It's a wonderful activity," said Donna Easley, a club member and Pickerington resident.

"We like to say it's fun and fellowship set to music," she said.

Easley and her husband, Jim, have been square dancing for more than 40 years.

She said they got started when they lived in Springfield, Ohio and their church offered lessons.

"Several of us decided we would like to learn," Easley said, adding the couple has been hooked ever since.

"It's a heck of a lot more fun than aerobics. It's good exercise," she said.

Four couples, eight people in all, form a square, which essentially functions as a dance team.

The square performs a series of dances and then regroups into new squares.

This type of square dancing requires a series of lessons beforehand to understand the choreographed sequences.

"You can't just walk in off the street, you have to know how to western square dance," Easley said.

Friendly Ties gives lessons to those who want to learn.

"You quickly 'graduate' when you go through the lessons, then you can go to workshops to learn more things," Easley said.

She said the club hopes the younger set will also take notice of how much fun western-style is.

"It used to be a bigger deal, but a lot of people are getting older," Easley said.

"We're trying to encourage younger dancers to come out.

"We enjoy music that a lot of the younger people can identify with, there's a lot of country-western, but one caller uses Lady Gaga," Easley said.

"You can dance to anything."

Friendly Ties Square Dance Club meets the first and third Sundays of the month from 7 to 9:30 p.m. in the Senior Center.

Easley said the next class for western-style square dance lessons will be in the fall.

Additional information about lessons can be obtained by calling Harold or Pam Fergus at 614-836-6789.