Two weekends of dancing: I love it. Today my feet hurt and my lips curl into a smile, remembering the fun we had at USA West Square Dance Convention and Hi Country Weekend. Both offered lots of dancing and both differed, but rewarded us in a variety of ways.
First of the Two Weekend Dance Events: USA West, Albuquerque, New Mexico
From July 26-29, 2023, 450 dancers came from all over the USA and other countries to enjoy USA West. This square and round dance festival began in 1997 in Denver, Colorado. It occurs anytime the National Square Dance Convention is east of the Mississippi. Since 1997, it has been held every year except three years—one year was for COVID.
This year, Albuquerque’s own Randy and Lorraine Pratt organized this event and did a great job.
During the convention, I sold my books and had a significant response. While selling them, I rekindled relationships with many dancers I hadn’t seen in years. What a splendid chance to see friend/dancers!
During USA West, the day began at 10:00 AM and ended at 10:00 PM, with After Parties that lasted until 11:00 PM or later. You can see that many square and round dancers love to party!
Each of the four evenings, we danced the night away to the possibility of 38 callers and 21 cuers from all over the country and Canada. We followed one caller we love around from hall to hall. That’s the option you have at a big event like this.
Often, we found our favorite high energy dancers and danced a fun square.
Also, we thoroughly enjoyed several exhibition groups that performed:
- California Heritage Dancers
- River City Riders
- High Country Dancers
- The Colorado Dancers
A couple of these groups highlighted the history of square dancing. One group, the River City Riders, had a fun presentation, with the dancers appearing to be horseback.
After so much dancing, we ended the weekend with tired feet and happy hearts! We thoroughly enjoyed the first of the two weekend dance events. USA West was a smashing success, yet we wanted more!
Second of the Two Weekend Dance Events: Hi Country Weekend, Pueblo, Colorado
At the USA West Trail-In dance on Wednesday, the Hi Country Weekend organizers asked if we planned to attend their dance coming up. They regularly attend our festival, Hot August Nights, and one said, “You know, we support you regularly.”
So, on August 3, 2023, Thursday afternoon, Lin and I headed north with a detour to Branson, Colorado, to spend a night there and saw my brother. That evening, we put a window air conditioner in my house in Branson. Afterwards Lin and I visited our 94-year-old friend who always is a joy to see.
Then, on Friday, August 4, we drove to Trinidad and met my brother for lunch and shopped around Trinidad. Afterwards, away we went to Pueblo for Hi Country Weekend for the weekend. Each evening had a different theme: Hawaiian Friday night and Cowboy on Saturday.
Each evening started with thirty minutes of round dancing, then thirty minutes of Plus dancing. The rest of the evening they had SSD (Social Square Dancing) dancing, with Plus dancing and rounds sprinkled throughout. So see—the focus was SSD dancing.
I really enjoyed their unique vision for a festival with the focus on SSD dancing. SSD is a relatively new program that focuses on the most popular fifty Mainstream calls. An entire weekend dedicated to a beginner level of dancing! Never once during the weekend was I bored as an experienced dancer. How about that! Other event planners should take note!
Unlike USA West, this event had two featured callers: Joe Saltel and Mike Hogan and a cuer: Peter and Chama Gomez. What a talented staff! The callers mixed up the SSD program so well, I never felt bored. This part of Colorado has several new SSD dancers that had a blast at their first festival.
Friday night we attended the “After Party” in one of the committee’s hotel room, overflowing with food and drinks and dancers. One tradition of this group is a “Bed Picture.” They get as many people as possible onto the bed in one of their hotel rooms for a selfie and they post the picture on Facebook. Their record is 24 people, but we only got 17! I always laugh as we jam as many people as possible on a hotel bed.
On Saturday morning, we took part in a challenging Plus workshop and then headed out to get gas and wash the car. We returned to the dance hall for a delicious barbecue lunch. Peter and Chama had a great workshop on Saturday afternoon, focusing on lower level round dances and then a jive workshop. We thoroughly enjoyed Peter’s excellent cuing and his hilarious sense of humor all weekend.
What a wonderful group of dancers come from southern Colorado—so warm and welcoming. Plus, high energy who thoroughly enjoy dancing and each other.
The second festival of our two weekend spree has left me exhausted and satisfied!
Two weekends of amazing dancing! Two weekends in a row—fantastic for those of us who love to dance! Each satisfied my dance needs, and each made my heart smile! In two weeks, we host our dance festival, Hot August Nights, in Albuquerque! So, yes, more dancing, more laughter and more friends in our near future!
Do you square dance? Dance of any kind? Do you dance this often, two weekends in a row?
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