Workshops, panel discussions, sewing clinics — and above all, music and nearly 14 hours of dancing each day — await participants at the 62nd National Square Dance Convention.
The four-day gathering that begins June 26 at Cox Convention Center will mark the fifth time Oklahoma City has hosted the gala for square dancing enthusiasts. Six dance halls will be in use, with sessions starting at 10 a.m. each day beginning June 27 and running until 11:30 p.m. An opening ceremony is scheduled June 26.
About 4,500 dancers representing all 50 states and several countries are expected, said Michael Carrier, president of the Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The planning committee bills it as “The World's Greatest Square Dance Event.” Publicity co-chairman Ed Baker, Lawton, said activities “will be enough to keep everyone busy.”
Up to 1,000 hotel rooms will be in use nightly downtown and elsewhere in Oklahoma City during the convention.
Linda and Glen Bray, of Piedmont, are co-presidents of the Oklahoma Square Dance Federation and belong to the Circle 8 square dance club of Oklahoma City. They are housing and registration co-chairmen for the convention.
Linda Bray said many dancers plan their vacations around the convention, held last year in Spokane, Wash. The 2014 convention will be in Little Rock, Ark.
“It's good clean family fun,” she said. “There is no drinking, and it's good exercise.”
Dance, learn, shop
Planning began in earnest four years ago after the convention was awarded to Oklahoma City. It was last held here in 2003.
The convention will bring an estimated $5 million in retail business to Oklahoma City, Carrier said.
“These people will go out and shop; they will go to attractions while they're here,” Carrier said.
In addition to the dancing, education for square dancers is planned, including panels, seminars and clinics, a fashion show and shopping in the vendor area. A youth hall for young square dancers is planned.
Baker said the sewing clinics are popular with women who like to sew their own dance dresses, but also are attended by male dancers who have the skills to sew square dance shirts.
In addition to traditional square dancing, dance floors will be dedicated to round dancing, Contra dancing, clogging, folk and country and western dancing. More than 150 square dance callers and round dance “cuers” are registered.
Sixteen square dance clubs are active in central Oklahoma. Oklahoma has about 40 clubs statewide, according to the Oklahoma Square Dance Federation, which is hosting the convention.
Michelle Schaefer, president of the 70-member Teacup Chains club of Edmond, said several members of that club are planning to attend.
Carrier said Oklahoma City has attracted larger conventions, but this will be one of the more noticeable because of the dancers' costumes.
“It's easy to tell they're square dancers. These folks stand out because of their colorful attire,” Carrier said.
The convention is open to spectators. Visitor ribbons can be purchased for $5, good for the entire convention, entitling the bearer to go anyplace except the youth hall.
To learn more
For more information about the national square dance convention, go to www.62nsdc.com.
For more information about square dancing opportunities in Oklahoma, go to www.oklahoma-square-dance-federation.org or www.cdsda.com.