EDMOND — Visitors to the Teacup Chains Square Dance Club's first dance of 2013 got some advice from caller Jeff Holley as he spoke into a hand-held microphone.
“Rule No. 1,” Holley said to the dancers assembled in four-couple groups: “Trust your caller.”
Visitors had been coaxed onto the dance floor by club members who assured them square dancing isn't all that difficult.
Newcomer Paula Parkhurst said before taking the floor that it looked like people were having a great time, “but you've got to pay attention.”
Holley led participants through basic square dance moves, explaining how to execute an allemande left, a do-si-do and a promenade before launching into a rhythmic call set to a familiar guitar tune amplified from a laptop computer.
As the music wound down, there were smiles everywhere, and Teacup Chains' evening of square dancing was under way.
The club had opened its dance to visitors, and the evening was filled with lively stepping, handshakes, hugs, food and lots of smiles as Edmond's only square dance organization marked the start of a new year. Many were decked out in black-and-white western attire, while others were dressed more for comfort.
“We are accepting of what anybody wants to wear,” Teacup Chains President Michelle Schaefer said. “We just want you to come and have fun.”
Schaefer said she has been a member four years, and the club “is like a family.” She said square dancing is beneficial for several reasons.
“It's good exercise. It keeps your mind sharp. We say it's ‘friendship set to music,' and it really is.”
Teacup Chains has dances on the first and third Saturdays of the month at Peace Lutheran Church, 2600 W Danforth Road, beginning with a 7 p.m. workshop, then a grand march at 7:30 p.m. Its next dance, on Jan. 19, also will be an open house with visitors welcome, Schaefer said.
The club will sponsor a series of lessons beginning Jan. 24 at the Edmond Multi-Activity Center.
Holley, who operates a grocery story in Crescent, said he learned square dance calling from his father and has been at it for 29 years. He calls for several other clubs, and will teach the classes at the Edmond MAC.
He said he calls dances to a wide variety of music.
“I do gospel, country-western, easy listening, easy rock,” he said, “and I love to take requests.”
He said he especially enjoys teaching.
“It's great to see new dancers on the floor, and to put a smile on their face when they get it,” he said.
Teacup Chains has been holding its dances at Peace Lutheran Church for two years after meeting for many years in a dance studio in Edmond.
“We outgrew the other place,” Schaefer said.
The club has about 70 members.
The club — which took its name from an advanced-level square dance formation — was formed in 1991. Schaefer said membership is open to adult couples and singles. The club is one of 16 that belong to the Oklahoma Central District Square Dance Association.
Schaefer's sister is club member Renee Gruntmeir, who has been square dancing with her husband, Luis, for more than 25 years, liking it so much they went to a square dance before embarking on their honeymoon.
“We had the wedding, went to the reception, then went to our local club dance in Kingfisher,” Renee Gruntmeir said.
“You cannot meet nicer people,” she said. “If we mess up, it doesn't matter. You just laugh and go on. It's just fun.”
Robert and Kay Bost have been Teacup Chains members for about three years, but square danced in Dallas for more than 20 years before moving to Edmond.
“It's good exercise, and lots of fun and fellowship,” Robert Bost said.
“When you make a mistake, everyone laughs and starts over.”