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Gad-Abouts Square Dance Club celebrates 55 years by dancing

Event at Washington County Agricultural Education Center offers 'good, clean fun'

October 21, 2012|By DAVE McMILLION | davem@herald-mail.com
  • Ray Struble, left, of Waynesboro, Pa., Marcia Horst of Maugansville, Alice Folly of Winchester, Va., and Bill Green of Strasburg, Va. square dance at the Gad-Abouts Square Dance Club's 55th anniversary held at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center.
By Ric Dugan, Staff Photographer

SHARPSBURG — Square dancing to Lady Gaga?

Maroon 5?

“Come Sail Away” by the rock band Styx?

People who have not been to a square dance in the last 15 years might have thought they were in some strange musical dream when they went to the 55th anniversary celebration dance for the Gad-Abouts Square Dance Club Sunday at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center.

Hunter Keller, who was the caller for Sunday afternoon’s dance, said there has been a trend over about the last 12 years of adding modern tunes to square dancing. When Keller kicked off the 2:30 p.m. dance, he sang the 1972 pop song “Beautiful Sunday,” and “Come Sail Away” later made it into the mix.

So what does Bernice McKee have to say about this?

McKee, of Clear Spring, is 90 years old and is the last surviving charter member of the Gad-Abouts.

As far as McKee is concerned, let it rip.

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“It’s there to be danced to and we dance to whatever they call,” McKee said before the start of Sunday’s dance.

Gad-Abouts members came together in 1957 and first danced in a Grange Hall on Greencastle Pike near U.S. 40 at Huyetts Crossroads, according to dance organizers.

Then they moved to another hall along U.S. 40 in the area of its intersection with Greencastle Pike and the club has dances monthly in the Wacohu Grange Hall.

There used to be five square dance clubs in the Hagerstown area, although the popularity has dropped off some, said Bob Lawn, president of the Gad-Abouts.

There still are dance clubs in nearby Martinsburg, W.Va., Frederick, Md., Winchester, Va., and Front Royal, Va., and members of the various clubs dance at each other’s dances, organizers said.

In the dances, there are eight people to a square, said Martha Thompson, a Berkeley Springs, W.Va., resident who is dance chairman for the Gad-Abouts.

The “caller” in a dance shouts out dozens of different calls, which are moves the dancers must follow. The dancers never know what kind of calls will be announced, Thompson said.

“That’s the fun part of the dancing because it’s challenging. It keeps your mind active,” Thompson said.

Organizers were hoping to have enough people to have 30 squares Sunday. Some big national dances might have upward of 100 squares, Lawn said.

About 170 people attended Sunday’s dance, for which they paid $10 apiece to attend.

“It’s good, clean fun,” said Lawn, adding that most dances do not allow alcohol or smoking.

Keller, who has called around the world, sang songs Sunday to recorded music.

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