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Sierra Hillbillies: Dancing on the square

Posted: August 18, 2008 4:55 p.m.
Updated: October 19, 2008 5:02 a.m.

On the second Friday of every month, the Sierra Hillbillies Square Dance Club holds a dance from 8 p.m. - 10 p.m. at the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center, at 22900 Market St. in Newhall.

This month's event served as an introduction to the Tuesday night beginners' square dancing class, which will begin on Sept. 9, from 7 p.m. - 9 p.m., at Mitchell Elementary School in Canyon Country.

The Sierra Hillbillies is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting Western Square Dancing and Round Dancing. The club has been in existence since 1967 in the Santa Clarita Valley, and currently has 37 members.

John King, the club's current vice president, said this is one of the reasons for the beginners' classes, to encourage participation and, eventually, new memberships. And he noted that the club has other activities outside of dancing, such as outings, campouts and dinners.

"We are a non-profit, but we try to be a very friendly bunch. We welcome all ages down to 10 or 11 year-olds if they come with their parents," he said.

Joanne Marrin, the club's current president, said that square dancing has been around for 200 years or more. "It's a good, clean, family activity."

King explained that square dancing came out of "contra" dancing from England - dances such as the quadrille and the Virginia reel, which George Washington participated in.

He noted that the beginner's square dancing classes are $5 per person per night and those who successfully complete the classes are invited to join the club. The classes teach simple moves, such as right and left grand and Allemande left, then teach more involved moves, to "build a repertoire."

He added that square dancing is the only form of dancing where you don't know what you are going to be doing when you step on the floor. It's all up to the caller.

For more information visit or call Joanne Marrin at (661) 250-8828.


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