Robins Ramblers invite newcomers to do-si-do into square dance club

January 16, 2013 


Houston County square dance group The Robins Ramblers held an open house to attract new members recently.JASON VORHEES-jvorhees@macon.com

WARNER ROBINS -- Don’t know how to do-si-do?

You can learn.

The Robins Ramblers, Warner Robins’ 40-plus-year-old square dancing club, will teach you. The group is having the second of two open houses for interested newcomers at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the recreation department on Watson Boulevard where it meets weekly.

“With square dancing, it’s all about dancing with your hands,” said Joe Herndon who leads the club along with his wife, Sylvia. “If I had to have great rhythm and fancy footwork -- no, I wouldn’t be doing it. But you dance with your hands, and your feet just follow. If you can hear the caller, you can square dance.”

By that, Herndon means square dancing is generally about holding a partner’s hands or reaching out to take other dancers’ hands as you follow the caller’s directions.

But if dancers don’t have to have great rhythm, he said, callers do.

“The caller has to have rhythm, a good voice and a real smooth flow to set the pace for the dancers,” he said. “We’ve got one of the best callers around, Bud Whitten. He’s been at it for 55 years. In fact, it was Bud that got me involved with the Warner Robins club. We live in Monroe County and heard him at a dance in Macon. He was doing things new to me, and I decided if I wanted to learn I better go where he was calling.”

With a twinkle in his eye, Whitten said there’s one basic rule for callers: you’ve got to get the dancers back with their partners by the end of the song.

Whitten, 76, and dashing with gray hair and a black suit with a cowboy tie, gives dancers a moment to rest in between songs as he cues up new tunes on his laptop.

Herndon said there’s plenty of traditional, down-home favorites played at a square dance, but you’ll also hear other music. Like Lady Gaga or Bee Gees hits. He said he’s partial to classic rock.

Brian and Tyrene Neil were among the 20 new faces at an open house Jan. 9. Brian was out dancing in his Nikes, jeans and Georgia Bulldogs hat.

“I was pretty apprehensive about coming,” he said. “I’m just not a dancer, but I had a really good time. It’s a lot better than I thought it would be and not that hard to pick up. The caller did a good job telling us what to do, and everybody was friendly and helpful. We’ll probably be back.”

Herndon said it’s not all about dancing.

“Square dancing is a great way to be with some really friendly, nice people,” he said. “It’s a family atmosphere with no shenanigans going on. It’s somewhere you’d feel absolutely at ease bringing your kids. You’re not going to hear any bad language or anything. It’s great fellowship.”

Herndon said you won’t find a better time anywhere for $3 a person, the charge for members at each Wednesday’s dance. It amounts to paying club dues. He said there are also group fundraisers to help provide the snacks.

Aside from that, Herndon said square dancing is the best low-impact aerobic workout he’s found.

“With everybody so health conscious, I don’t understand why they’re not flocking to this,” he said. “It’s an easy way to get exercise, and we’ve got members from pre-teens to 95 dancing with us. Besides, where else can you dress up like a cowboy if you want to and yell ‘Yee-haw!’ without people thinking you’re crazy?”

By the way, a do-si-do is when two dancers go past each other right shoulder to right shoulder then, without turning around, pass in back of one another and move backward passing left shoulder to left shoulder to the starting position facing each other.

If that’s not understandable, they can clear it up for you at the open house.

Contact Michael W. Pannell at mwpannell@gmail.com.

 

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