Ladies in, men sashay

Nation’s oldest square dance club now in Piedmont

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From left to right, members Sherry Parsons, Tom Geis, Paul Francel, Lisa Francel, Linda Bray, Bruce Ingram, Joe Morgan, and Vickie Geis square dance on December 10 at Piedmont United Methodist Church located at 2525 Piedmont Road. (Photo by Carol Mowdy Bond)

By Carol Mowdy Bond
Contributing Writer

Piedmont is now home to the Circle 8 Square Dance Club, the nation’s oldest continuing square dance club. Although COVID-19 put the skids on dancing back in March, the club is now back on the dance floor every second and fourth Thursday of the month. But in November and December, they meet on the second Thursday only. Dancing begins at 7 p.m. For the moment, the club is dancing at the Piedmont United Methodist Church located at 2525 Piedmont Road.

“We plan to start meeting twice monthly again in January,” said club treasurer Linda Bray.

“And we’ll start lessons again in January. Lessons are sometimes on a different night, and they’re once a week. We don’t charge for the first three lessons, to let people decide if they want to continue.”

Circle 8 members come from all over the place, not just Piedmont, and surprisingly, include all ages. And the club is hoping new members will join, including singles with no partners. In fact, they’re inviting people to come, sit and watch, and see what’s going on.

As well, the club is looking for a permanent home. They prefer a dance floor made of wood.

But a linoleum floor will work.

Linda said, “It’s a lot of fun and it’s exercise, and we laugh a lot. And we do have singles come, but it’s good if you have a partner. But if you don’t have a partner, a dancer will sit out so you can dance, so you aren’t sitting alone on the side the whole time.”

At one time, the club’s membership was huge. However, it has dwindled lately. So, the club is trying to grow its numbers. Linda said, “You’re welcome to come. It’s about being friendly and enjoying yourself.”

Linda said, “Members pay dues. But it’s not pricey. We want it to be easy for people.”

Dancers are encouraged to wear shoes with leather soles, because rubber soled shoes do not slide as smoothly on the floor as leather. If possible on dance nights, besides wearing comfortable shoes, the club leadership encourages women to wear skirts, and men to wear slacks and long sleeves. However, for lessons, casual attire is fine.

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Linda is surprised to find teens really enjoy square dancing. But she said, “Even though we laugh a lot and have fun, there’s no horse play because you will trip up people while they’re dancing.”

Vickie and Tom Geis are the club presidents. And Vickie said, “Circle 8 began in Oklahoma City, and we were dancing in west Oklahoma City for years. But issues came up, and we needed to move. Several of our members live in Piedmont, and January 1, 2020, we moved our club to Piedmont. According to our research, and to the best of our knowledge, we are the oldest continuing square dance club in the U.S.”

Vickie said, “Piedmont United Methodist Church has been so accommodating and sweet to us, to let us be here. We’re so lucky to be here and in this church.”

There are other Circle 8 square dance clubs in other states. But they are not affiliated with the Piedmont club.

Linda said, “Our group sometimes travels to other states and square dance conventions. And we have visitors come from other states. We sometimes visit other clubs here in Oklahoma. That’s called club visitation. But we don’t go to competitions.”

Linda said, “There’s no alcohol or profanity. This is good, clean fun. If dancers bring their children, the children need to not get out on the dance floor and trip up the dancers.”

“Glen and I were tricked into this many years ago,” said Linda. “A couple asked us to go eat and then go someplace with them. They picked us up. And after we ate, they took us to a square dance. We were stunned. We felt very clumsy. I figured when we got home, Glen would say ‘Never again.’ But he said, ‘Let’s give it a try again.’ I was totally stunned that Glen decided we were going back again. That was back in the latter 70s and we’re still dancing.”

“It’s fun,” Linda said. “You make new friends, and you support each other in life situations. It’s not just about dancing. And we might get together just to visit, not just on a dance night. It’s about friendship.”

To connect with the Circle 8 Square Dance Club, call Linda Bray at (405) 826-2939.