“You need to have a good sense of timing,” he said. “You need to understand what the calls do as far as where they move the dancers to and that takes a lot of memory.”
Johnstone said the role of the caller has remained more or less the same over the years but modern square dancing affords more opportunities to improvise.
“In modern square dancing, everything is more extemporaneous,” he said. “In older square dancing, everything was memorized. Now callers have to be thinking two steps ahead while they're telling the dancers what to do.”
Attire Thursday afternoon was casual. But in the evening sessions, dancers are required to wear formal attire that can include colorful skirts for women and bolo ties for men. Couples, married or otherwise, usually wear shirts and dresses with coordinating color schemes.
Lynne Mardock came to Oklahoma City from Illinois in part to hear the different callers but also to shop. She already had purchased a new skirt at the convention on Thursday morning.
“I prefer the short dresses with the poofy skirts,” she said. “I do wear both. When I first started dancing, it was strictly the short skirts, and now that I'm a little older, I like the long ones, too.”
The convention wraps up Saturday night. Plans for next year's event already are underway. It will be held in Little Rock, Ark.
“People will start talking about the next one as soon as this one is over,” Morton said. “It's something everyone here looks forward to year after year.”