Grab your partner and do-si-do in C’Dale | PostIndependent.com
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Grab your partner and do-si-do in C’Dale

Stina SiegPost Independent StaffGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Courtesy photoIts time to cowboy up for the KDNK Community Square Dance, coming to Carbondale this Saturday. One of those sure to attend is DJ Mark Burrows, pictured above with his date (and the KDNK mascot), Elsa.
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CARBONDALE, Colorado Tom Paxton can guess the last time you square danced. He imagines you were in grade school and moved uncomfortably in the gym as your P.E. teacher called out steps you didnt understand. There was also bad, florescent lighting and even worse canned music, right?He can see it and now he wants you to let it all go. Saturday nights dance is a whole new animal.The energy in the room, its just like a rock concert, said Paxton, dead-serious.He would know. Beyond being a free-lance bass player in the valley for more than 30 years, hes been square dance caller for even longer. Ever year, he teaches crowds at around two dozen or so conventions, wedding receptions and parties how to swing their partners and do-si-do. At this first ever KDNK Community Square Dance, hell be the one directing, as the Last Minute String Band adds their distinctive brand of folksiness to the air.And theres no need to be intimidated, Paxton stressed. Its not that kind of hoe-down.As he put it, My stuff is low on instruction and high on fun.For him, the introduction to the dance came early. He was fresh out of college when he took up playing bass at a Michigan YMCA camp in 1976. For two years, he played behind a caller who did simple square dances for families and youngsters. The vitality of the movements, coupled with the power of live music, eventually got to him. It wasnt long before he was calling dances of his own. Though hes never let up on square dancing, hes also never felt the need to get too technical about it. He only knows about 10 calls, which usually last him about one night of dancing. Its just enough instruction to give people a taste of the choreography but not so much that they get confused or frustrated. That, he explained, would cancel out one of the most beautiful things about the art.

Its one of the best get acquainted modalities there is, he said.It makes sense, too. In adult life, so often people are thrown into parties or social situations with absolutely nothing to do. Theyre expected to just make small talk or drink or find someone to go home with. At its best, square dancing seems to erase a lot of that. Though it can be a tough sell at first, it gives people a new skill to learn, a way to focus outside themselves. All of a sudden, theyve got this whopper of an ice-breaker, something they can really share amongst each other. Its also a place to mess up, without any real consequences. Over the years, Paxton has called for all kinds of unlikely groups jaded New Yorkers, stiff-looking financial types, aloof hipsters. They may all have been so different, yet when the dancing was truly good, their reactions werent.Its a really great communal experience, Paxton explained. Its not about getting it right. Its about having a good time.How often, in this real world of ours, do you get that kind of freedom?Contact Stina Sieg: 384-9111ssieg@postindependent.com


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