Dave "Happy" New Year
I, Dave New Year, nick name 'Happy', in 1982 at the Reno Rodeo, was thrilled to see some Square Dance Singing Calls started. Saturday evening just before the band was due to play, Skip Barrett gave me a chance to call a short tip and this opened a whole new world for me. The Square Dancers all came up to ma asking for more, so we set up my calling equipment under the lights outside by the bleachers and danced on the asphalt until after midnight. From this I was invited and flown to Denver's "Mile High Squares", San Francisco's "Western Star Dancers", and Sacramento's "Capital City Squares" to call for them. All groups treated me like Royalty and it was wonderful.
I came home from Reno that year with high hopes of promoting Gay Square Dancing in Southern California. In Palm Springs at this Western Bar, many guys were asking for Square Dancing since seeing us at the Rodeo. The owner asked me to teach on Sunday nights. I started the class even though is is a 2 hour drive each way from my house. I then started a class in Long Beach and Orange County.
In 1983, at Reno Rodeo, I was thrilled to be one of the featured callers. I now had Southern California represented by 5 Squares of my dancers plus more non-dancers along to watch us. 2 Squares were female which I think encouraged the non-dancing girls at the Rodeo to be more interested in taking lessons with the guys since there are more guys in Square Dancing that are girls.
Pioneering Gay Square Dancing in Southern California has been a time consuming challenge for myself to tackle since I work a full time day job. I have fine nights a week I teach. To my knowledge, I'm the only Gay Square Dance Caller in Southern California.
Because of starting at the Sundance Saloon in Palm Springs, we took on the name of 'Sundancers'. This group is now a club and I am their club caller. Also in Palm Springs, we have the "New Year Resolutions" group and also in Orange County and Long Beach. I have a co-ordinator in three areas:
Patti Newhouse and Betty Teager in Orange County (48 members)
Tim Slaattel in Long Beach (40 members)
Paul Whitehouse in Palm Springs (32 members)
All the groups exchange dances with each other. Because of high rental of halls, and also if they'd accept a gay group, each group dances in a Gay Bar and lessons are $2.00 per person. The bar than pays me later to teach Country Dancing the rest of the evening in which I also give the Square Dancers an opportunity of performing.
One more thing I'll mention is, I realize groups learning to "records" that this is impossible, but in my groups the men do not wish to be called ladies and the ladies called men. A square is made up of 4 couples. Leader on the left and pardner on the right. Of course always to the left of the leader is the corner. Leader replaces straight term man and pardner replaces straight term lady. I hope some day to make straight groups drip the Sex Gender terms just like chairman is now chairperson, mailman is now postperson, etc. 3 calls have work pardner in them which can be changed such as California twirl is with hands, California trade without hands (instead of pardner trade)
In summary, we are 3 non-profit caller organized groups with a co-ordinator appointed for each group. Teaching Mainstream according to CALLERLAB for diploma and plan on dancing Mainstream for a year before moving to Plus. As a Group we decided the fun things to do besides Square Dancing such as Camp-outs, Pot-lucks, etc.
See Ya in a Square.