Playing old time folk music leads one naturally to square dancing – a lot of old time tunes are dance tunes – and square dancing is one of the best times I've ever had. I fell into calling by accident - I was at my beloved Nimbelfingers Bluegrass and Oldtime Music Workshop several years ago, back when it was known as the BC Bluegrass Workshop, and there was only one dance per week (literally one dance, not an evening of dancing). My old pal Steve Roy had been calling the dance, a Virginia Reel, for a couple of years, but alas, he was not in attendance that year! Someone asked if I could wing it and I rose to the challenge. It was so fun! I wanted to do more.
I started learning Southern style dances (danced to Appalachian fiddle tunes) off of YouTube videos, and began attending dance workshops such as the annual Dare to be Square West. I took a week-long workshop with Phil Jamieson at Fiddle Tunes Workshop in Port Twonsend, and attended as many dances as I could, studying the moves and scribbling down new dances. I've enjoyed learning from such callers as Paul Silveria, Evie Ladin, Larry Edelman, Caroline Oakley, and Kelsey Nelsen. In the meantime, dancing became a central part of Nimblefingers - we now have three nights of dancing, including a great big dance social partway through camp.
The wonderful thing about square dancing is that even if you have never danced before - IT DOESN'T MATTER! - the caller tells you everything you need to know. First timers can dive right on in with more experienced dancers, which makes for a wonderful community event. The best part about calling dances, for me, is the giant smiles on the faces of the dancers, the feeling of camraderie on the dance floor, and the fact that we dance to live music. It's a living, breathing thing. Can't go wrong with a square dance!