Square Dancers preserve tradition

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— Feet don't sit still for long when the Green Ridge Mountaineers meet for some socializing and serious square dancing at the South Routt Community Center on Monday nights.
Dresses swirl and cowboy boots keep time with the rhythm of fiddles and guitars.
Lamar Podbevsek's voice sings above the record player that blares old country tunes for the dancers.
Podbevsek drives up from Glenwood Springs every week to lead his charges through a few hours of dosi-dos and promenading.
Diehard square dancers can recall when several callers lived in the Yampa Valley, but that was many years ago.
Now Podbevsek is the closest caller.
He doesn't mind the long commute, he said, because he looks forward to leading his friends through their paces on the dance floor.
Podbevsek knows between 500 and 600 calls, which he then belts out through the microphone.
"It's like a chant," he said.
Many of the men and women who participate in the Green Ridge Mountaineers live in Craig.
The trip back to Craig can get long after a long night of dancing, said Aldean Schanck, one of the people who brought organized square dancing back to the Yampa Valley five years ago.
Square dances, though, were a popular form of entertainment for some of the earliest settlers in the valley.
Schanck and others wanted to help preserve square dancing for more people to enjoy, she said.
"We'll try to keep it going as long as us old people hold up," Schanck said.
White- and silvered-hair men and women kick up their heels at the South Routt Community Center.
Estimates show a square dancer's average age is 57, longtime square dancer Duane Steele said.
Steele, 70, said he intends to keep dancing as long as he has the energy for it.
Square dancing seems to be making a comeback, he said, but it will always need younger people to help maintain its longevity.
"It is slowly dwindling," Steele said. "If we would let it die, it would."
Steele and Schanck invite would-be dancers to give the Green Ridge Mountaineers a try.
The dancing begins at 7 p.m. and often goes until 10 p.m.
When enough people show interest in learning the foundational steps, they replace their regular dancing on Monday nights with lessons.
Square dancers across the state meet once a year for two days of mingling and dancing.
Swing Thru 2002, the 48th Colorado State Square Dance Festival, runs June 14 and 15 in Pueblo.
At the national festival, more than 20,000 square dancers fill the floor.
Gale and Lois Norman began dancing about 10 years ago.
Lois Norman, 76, wanted a then-reluctant husband to take her dancing.
But 79-year-old Gale Norman's reluctance to dance soon turned to interest.
Now the couple faithfully makes every Monday meeting of the Green Ridge Mountaineers, and they show new dancers how to make square dancing look easy.
They even took their 14-year-old grandson dancing once, and he said he enjoyed the experience, Lois Norman said.
"It's rare to see the kids here," she said. "We would like to see them, but they're so busy with other things."

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