Betty Stretch loves to square dance. For her, the exercise is a social equalizer.
“It doesn’t matter where you come from or what you do in life; we all come together for fun, good exercise and good socializing,” she said.
Stretch is a member of Kuntry Kuzzins Square Dance Club, and said Henry Ford proclaimed it as America’s folk dance.
“You can go anywhere in the world to square dance,” said Stretch, who attended the National Singles Square Dance Festival in Des Moines, Iowa, over Labor Day weekend.
Although the festival is national, several square dance clubs around the world send representatives to the annual event.
“You may not be able to converse with [the international square dancers], but you can dance with them,” said Stretch.
Bob Loyd, square dance caller and teacher, uses an international call list. He said square-dancing terms like “do-si-do,” “allemande” and “promenade” originated from the French language.
Many Kuntry Kuzzins visit other clubs, which in turn visit the Kuntry Kuzzins, according to Stretch. Each summer, an annual festival of Northeastern Oklahoma square dancers is held, and attendees get together for good exercise, fun and socialization.
Member Conrad Sulzen, who started participating in 1978, said that square dancing is America’s national dance.
“I always loved to dance, and I began square dancing because it’s a good habit to have,” said Sulzen.
Sulzen has traveled 129,000 miles in the past 12 months, going to square dances in a six state area.
“Every time you dance, you dance with four women, or you dance with four men if you’re a woman square dancer,” said Sulzen.
Joe and Eileen Shroff have been square dancing for a long time.
“It is good exercise,” Joe said. “And I love the good food served at the pot-luck dances on Saturday night.”
Ruth Goforth is one of the “angels” of Kuntry Kuzzins. An angel is a veteran square dancer who helps the beginners.
“I danced for years, then married a man who didn’t,” Goforth said. “He passed away 10 years ago, so I picked it back up.”
The Kuntry Kuzzins give lessons every fall.
According to member Jane Anderson, the first two lessons are free, so people can sample square dancing and see if they like it.
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