We went to a square dance this weekend for work. I used to have to square dance in highschool, but I've never been to an actual dance put on by anyone other than my gym teacher, who we all adored, in part, because he would sing along to all of the songs. A square dance that I actually had to help organize, though? That's unchartered territory, my friends, and frankly, I was a little nervous. Thanks to a Folk Arts grant, the Arts Council has been putting on these dances for about 15 years. We have 5 square & round dances scheduled in Tioga County this year (click here for more details). I was curious to see what it would be like- who would come, where the dance would be, what the music would be like, etc.
We had so much fun! The dance was held in a gorgeous old community center in Berkshire, New York. Originally built in 1932, it had been abandoned for 55 years. About 15 years ago, a group of people got together to save the building and to create a space for their community to gather once again. They built a new foundation, refinished the wood walls, floors, and ceilings (stunning!), replaced the heating system, etc. They're still working to restore the stage and make new curtains, along with several other projects. It was the perfect setting for a dance. The outer edge of the room was lined with vintage chairs and hay bales to sit on...
EZ E and Kicky ran around while they waited for the dance to start. The building had been used as a gym for a highschool before the school was torn down. The floors still have the telltale markings of a gymnasium.
In fact, the space is once again being used for basketball games. The windows have a protective layer of chicken wire to keep basketballs from crashing through.
All of the light fixtures were protected by these fabulous, original metal cages.
The ceiling was unbelievably gorgeous.
Here's the handmade basketball hoop at one end of the building. The stage was on the opposite end.
Kicky and EZ E hung out on the chairs and talked about how they should've worn cowboy boots.
I was really surprised by how many people came to dance. At one point I counted 58 people, which seemed like a lot for a Saturday night in a rural little town. I loved watching the windows steam up while people danced and laughed.
The variety of boots made me feel like we were in Texas! Check out those fancy red boots...
It was hard to take photos because everyone was moving so fast.
This is the outside of the Berkshire Community Center. I was so impressed by their commitment to save this building and keep a place for members of their community to be together. I know it sounds cynical, but sometimes I feel like authenticity isn't easy to come by- it can be astonishingly refreshing, particularly when you're least expecting it. Singing along to the band playing Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline songs and watching a genuinely enthusiastic audience spin and laugh and whisper and try...it was lovely.