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BEACON Senior News - Western Colorado

Grab your partner! Square dancing strengthens friendships

Jan 27, 2023 10:15AM ● By Deborah Lazear

Black Canyon Twirlers was formed in 1959 by a local couple who met square dancing in college. 

Dot Doherty is still a member of the Twirlers, even after her husband Tom died in 2021. She doesn’t dance anymore but visits often to support club-sponsored events and activities. 

Like most Twirlers, the club’s current president, JR Milner is also a member of the Delta Hubwheelers, which was chartered in 1968. 

“The goal of both clubs is to revive the legacy of square dancing and promote all its fun,” said Milner.

Cami Bear saw how much fun it was one year at Pioneer Days and has been dancing ever since. 

“At first, my husband came just for me, but now he loves it as well. We both work, and it’s increased our time together,” said Bear.

Heathy habits

Square dancing can be done to many types of music, not just country western. 

“One time, I square danced to the Mickey Mouse song and we danced to ‘Jingle Bell Rock’ on the Christmas Parade float,” said Milner. 

Naaman Moorehouse from Grand Junction is the caller for both clubs. 

“If you feel you’ve become lethargic, square dancing is the answer,” said Morehouse. 

Twirler and fitness trainer Stacey Lee touted the many benefits of square dancing. 

“Square dancing is good for your health, longevity and social and emotional well-being,” said Lee. “When you dance, you let go of stress, and exercise both your body and mind.”

Researchers have found that square dancing helps with memory loss because your brain is consistently engaged in listening, concentrating on what to do next and working with fellow dancers. It’s also an excellent way to maintain muscle tone and mental acuity.

Learn to square dance

Long-time Twirlers Tom and Joyce Harman took square dance classes in 1992. Recently, they were recognized with the club’s Golden Age award, which is given to members who are still dancing in their 80s.

Leland Howard has also received the Golden Age award. He and his wife Lola started dancing with the Twirlers in 1968. 

Dancers as young as 13 can join the club, but most members are between 40 and 80 years old. 

“The other dancers are patient and helpful while you’re learning,” said Sue Moon, another Golden Age awardee. 

Members dance year round at assisted living homes and local events, including the Montrose County Fair, Parade of Lights and BeaconFest.

“[Square dancing] strengthens your relationships and friendships, which is important in our lives today,” said Paul Ash.

For more information or to join the Black Canyon Twirlers, contact Milner at [email protected] or call 970-901-9364.

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