Magazine

Ghosts of dances past


Bob Simon

Given your keen interest in poetry, Dear Reader, you must have also been charmed by square-dance callers’ rhymes back in the day. Oh? Still dancing in those wide skirts and cowboy vests? Well - you young whippersnapper, you - you can read along, too.

Our square-dance club finally hung up our boots and flats. As we faded into the sunset, we converted first to annual reunions and then, sadly, to one last adios. The poem that follows was recited at our final gathering.

As you’ll see, real square-dance calls are in italics, tucked in among my observations of how we wound down over the years. As you read along, do try to adopt that familiar square-dance cadence. Tap your foot. Wearing a bandana or pretty little scarf might help.

Bob Simon is a Los Altos resident. For more information, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Square Dance Reprise

Back then, when it all began:

Since we want a social hub

Let’s just start a square-dance club

Ladies chain with your left hand

Gents line up for the right and left grand

Potluck suppers mighty fine

This month your place, next month mine

You bring salad, I’ll bring cheese

Those aren’t beans, they’re black-eyed peas

Finger food, but first things first

Here no man will die of thirst

Wheel Around now, two by two

Grab your partner, Skip to My Loo

I drank too much wine with you

Now I gotta Skip-to-YOUR-Loo …

Courtesy Turn and Shoot That Star

Promenade Left and Allemande Thar

Did you get how that call was put?

Oh, he must mean THAT left foot

Roll Away with a Half-Sashay

Right arm turn and stay that way

Don’t try to teach that step to me

I only have a Ph.D.

Circulate go single file

Slip the clutch then walk a mile

That last call was might queer

You just can’t get there from here

Triple Scoot then All Stand Pat

Bend the Line and Box the Gnat

Box the Gnat, now what is THAT?

And who would want a gift-wrapped gnat?

And just the other day:

Chicken in a bread pan kickin’ up dough

Circle left and Do Paso

When we danced we’d paint the town

Then the time came to slow down

The caller hollered lend an ear

You said thanks you’d LIKE a beer

To keep on dancing was insane

Your new walker bent my cane

So the dancing went away

Potluck and wine still made our day

Then our potluck luck ran out

And red and white gave me the gout

There’s just time for one last call:

Bow to your partner

Bow to your corner

That’s all.

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