Happy (a.k.a. John Burlison) was born in Moscow, Idaho in 1951. A factoid about his previous life, is that his father was among other things a country caller, so of course, Happy hated square dancing while he was growing up. In the intervening years, Happy eventually moved to Wheaton, Maryland where he lives with his domestic partner, Ron Dagani who is a completely bereft square dance widow who gets no sympathy from Happy.
Happy came to square dancing through social nudism. He attended a naturist men's gathering at Camp Ramblewood near Havre de Grace, Maryland in the summer of 2000. The gathering offered square dancing, and Ron thought it would be a good idea to check out. Happy immediately fell in love with it, and Ron did not. Among the other men at the gathering, Happy met many gay square dancers who were talking about gay square dance clubs, conventions, fly-ins in a strange almost Biblical tongue. Happy, being a lapsed Episcopalian and an excommunicated Mormon was hooked. Nick Martellacci and Don St. Jean gave Happy contact information for the DC Lambda Squares, and as soon as Happy got back to Wheaton, he contacted the club and began classes in September of 2000.
Happy took his first square dance class from Doug Barnett, DC Lambda Squares' teaching caller. Plus quickly followed in 2002, taught by Warren Jaquith. Advanced continued with Warren in 2004. Happy finally stumbled onto Challenge 1 in a blast weekend with Ken Ritucci in April 2008. Since Then, Ett McAtee has put up with him in her club, the Ettsetteras. Happy and his square dance partner, Tim Walton also dance with John Marshall's Phantom 8s (Advanced) and Billy Harrison's Galaxy Stars (C1) in the DC suburbs.
Happy quickly got active in DC Lambda Squares as mainstream rep and newsletter editor. He has since served as webmaster, membership chair, vice-president, and president (twice). Happy was president when club funds (about $30,000) were embezzled by another club member. He realized that something was rotten in Denmark during Remake the Heatwave while talking with Scott Philips about a Petersen Fund Request. The next two or three months were very sketchy, but the club came through 110% without missing a single club night, community dance, workshop, or class. Square dancing really mattered to DC Lambda Square dancers. Don't let anything get between a square dancer and the floor!
Happy has had an IAGSDC convention life, too. He regularly attends the Delegates meeting because it is so cogent, focused and fascinating. He went his first convention in Toronto in 2002 and has been coming back ever since. He likes conventions because they are big, sprawling, dysfunctional family reunions. The square dancing is quite serious, but the silliness factor is pretty high, too. Besides, it means at least once a year, he'll see all those cute California boys - they know who they are. Happy has his eyes and heart set on Salt Lake City in 2014, because something big is going to happen there. As an Ex Co Fo Mo, he's going back to Zion to recruit! Family Values? We'll see who has family values!
Happy's happiest square dance moment was to dance with his sister Grace Wallace four years ago at Chicago Crossfire. Since then, Happy and Grace have attended two conventions together and a Puddletown Squares fly-in. Happy is deeply grateful for the Chi-Town Squares and how they have adopted Grace and brought her into their heart. Happy's advice for Chi-Town Squares is listen to your Grandma, because she really does know what's best for you. She's told him that his whole life, and Happy's just her little brother.
Happy is also coordinating the IAGSDC History Project's Oral History Project team.