TRAVEL JOURNAL READERS—I had to interrupt the travel journal of our trip to the British Isles with this current event. We will go to Edinburgh next week!
I love square and round dancing and I love to attend festival, attending hundreds over the years. My favorite of the whole year is Hot August Nights in Albuquerque, and I am the chairperson of this delightful affair.
Tonight I’m an exhausted yet fully satisfied chairperson! We just finished the 13th Annual Hot August Nights square and round dance festival and what a success it was! This festival is a three-day event and draws people from all over the Southwest. Our usual supporters come from Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Colorado and Utah. This year we had dancers from Nevada, northern California and Oregon.
This event started Friday afternoon, August 16, with a Welcome Dance from 2:00 – 3:00 PM with a local caller, Greg Tillery. We had five squares of dancers who anticipated a great weekend of dancing. Greg called a fun, energetic dance that help set the atmosphere for the weekend.
Friday night featured Tony Oxendine as our caller and Steve and Lori Harris as cuers. It has taken me eighteen years to get Tony to Albuquerque. We tried to have him as our featured caller for the National Singles Festival I chaired in Albuquerque in 2003, but it didn’t work.
This year we broke the Friday night record with 19 squares in attendance. We have a Beach Party theme, so most people dressed casually in fun beach attire. Tony rocked the place with high energy music and choreography. He wowed everybody with his beautiful voice and knowledge of music. We danced, we laughed and enjoyed the delightful evening of dancing. All of the round dancers enjoyed the round dancing with Steve and Lori Harris. We finished the evening with traditional root beer floats and time to socialize with old friends and make new ones.
Saturday morning is dedicated to round dancing—cued ball round dancing to those who might not know. The Harris’ introduced fifteen new round dance couples to the Two Step rhythm. It’s always a joy to see new round dancers on the floor. Then they taught a waltz and rumba to seventeen experienced round dance couples and three singles.
One of my favorite parts of the weekend is the potluck at noon. Ninety dancers sat and shared this meal together, laughing and enjoying a relaxing meal–another record breaker. During a festival, it’s hard to really become acquainted with other people on the dance floor because there’s really no time. This leisure meal provided the opportunity to enlarge old relationships and build new ones.
Square dancers filled the hall Saturday afternoon for three different sessions: singing calls, a plus workshop and high energy dancing. Tony has such a beautiful voice and used a variety of music, so everybody enjoyed the singing calls.
Tony’s expertise shone during the plus workshop. He extended everyone’s dancing repertoire through taking a call everyone knows and expanding it. I always know that I will grow as a dancer in attending one of Tony’s workshops. Seventeen squares participated wanting more and more of Tony’s knowledge.
The afternoon ended with a session of High Energy—some people call it Hot Hash. It’s the type of dancing when the caller calls fast and keeps the floor moving like never before. Tony kidded Friday night about all his calling is high energy, but he ratcheted it up a couple notches and had us sailing around the floor. This type of square dancing is not for the faint of heart for sure!
Saturday evening dancers wore square dance attire, except for my husband, Lin. He stunned the crowd in his new kilt he bought in Scotland a couple weeks ago.
In the pre-rounds, we had 31 couples on the floor—an amazing record for us! The women dressed in beautiful square dance attire, and the scene was a colorful array! I love to watch the spins and twirls of these dresses on the dance floor.
Before squaring up, Tony sang the “National Anthem,” bringing tears to many eyes! When the square dance started, we had 22 squares on the floor—another record breaker! We danced the night away enjoying Tony’s selection of music and beautiful voice and playful attitude! We ended the evening with root beer floats again and laughter and joy.
The Sunday morning Trail Out dance is another favorite of mine—these are the diehard dancers who just can’t get enough dancing ever! We had 13 squares of crazy dancers for more dancing and fun—another record broken!
We do crazy antics on Sunday morning like scatter promenade which mixes the whole floor up. Tony sang a gospel tune and several requests from dancers who have known him for a while.
All in all—it was a blast and an amazing success! I’m always a little sad when an event like this ends, but many of us dancers didn’t say good-bye but “see you at the next dance festival down the road.”
As a chairperson of many square and round dance events, I have to say that working with Tony and the Harris’ was such a pleasure. When asked for extras, Tony simply agreed to do what was asked and did it beautifully. The Harris make my job an easy one providing for all the round dancers needs. As a chairperson, you couldn’t ask for better!
The committee that puts this event together is the best committee ever, working hard to make it a memorable experience for all. We only have two meetings during the year: one phone conference call in July and a feedback meeting the afternoon after the festival is over. Our total focus is to promote square dancing!
At today’s meeting, I loved to see the pride in each person’s eyes of a job well done. Now we relax a little and then prepare for next year!
Check out the Hot August Nights website for pictures from this event–especially a group picture of the Saturday night dancers which will be coming soon! https://larada.wixsite.com/hotaugustnights
What are your square dance festival experiences? Share them with me and the readers! Let’s spread a little square dance joy around!
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