Don’t dosado or promenade regularly? Don’t worry.
You don’t need either skill just to poke your head into the Spokane Convention Center for the 61st National Square Dancing Convention, a four-day event this week celebrating one of America’s earliest forms of entertainment. In fact, the organizers encourage outsiders — perhaps some of the thousands and thousands in town for Hoopfest, which is also taking place this weekend — to catch a glimpse of this quintessentially Americana event by offering a $5 visitor pass, which is good for the entire convention.
In exchange for a five-spot, a novice can do everything an expert with a dancer badge can do except, well, actually touch a toe on the dance floor. The pass also grants access to educational offerings, including certification programs, seminars, sewing classes, caller training sessions and dancing workshops. Visitors can also shop the 47 vendors who’ll be filling up 30,000 square feet in the Convention Center. They’ll be hocking cloth ing, various accessories, health and wellness items, en tertainment and educational materials and instructional videos. There will even be a fashion show. It’s all part of square dance culture, something that’s likely foreign to the casual observer.
“We’re going to have [attendees] from every state in the union and from nine foreign countries,” says Don Pruitt, general chairman of this year’s convention, adding that the camaraderie that comes from meeting people from all walks of life helps sustain square dancing’s popularity.
“It’s is a family-oriented activity,” he adds. “This is an excellent oppor tunity to get into the family values [of] friendship and learning together.” More than 5,000 people have regis tered for the event, according to the convention’s website. your dancing shoes!
While square dancing might not be for everyone, its appeal goes beyond age. “We’re going to have youth groups starting at age 6, and one person dancing who’s over 100,” says Pruitt.
Bringing this piece of culture to town is part of the convention’s purpose.
“When the people of Spokane see us,” says Pruitt, pausing, “they’ll know us from the clothes we wear.”
61st National Square Dancing Convention • Thurs-Sat, June 28-30 from 10 am-10 pm • Spokane Convention Center • 334 W. Spokane Falls Blvd.