Albuquerque · Dancing · My Thoughts · square dance

Looking Back—Hot August Nights 2022

Hot August Nights banner - looking back

Looking back a week later, I sigh with relief and marvel at the success of Hot August Nights 2022. We hadn’t had this event since 2019. This year, we required the vaccine to attend, so we wondered how many would support it.

Excited, we had eleven squares pre-registered but received emails from dancers telling us they were attending USAWest in San Diego instead of our event. So, in reality, we did not know.

The Recycle Shop Work Beforehand

The saga began the week before the event. Lin came up with a great idea—every time we drove to the dance hall for a club dance, bring a load of clothes from the storage unit for the Recycle Shop. See, our stash had grown over the two and half years we didn’t dance because we kept getting donations.

Duke City Singles and Doubles’ Spring Fling and our event share the clothes for the Recycle Shop, and they sold lots at the Spring Fling, but dancers kept donating since May. Then it took three vehicles to get the clothes to the storage unit near us in Tijeras, NM.

So, on each of the three—four trips, we swung by the storage unit, packed the Tahoe full and completed the last trip on the Thursday before Hot August Nights.

Looking Back at Our Busy Friday

At 9:00 am Friday morning, we started the arduous task of setting up the Recycle Shop with several helpful volunteers. Immediately, we realized we had to purge the over-abundant supply of clothes or we wouldn’t have enough room. We filled six boxes and put those boxes out Saturday morning, free for the taking.

We finished the Recycle Shop, did minimal decorations and enjoyed lunch at one of our favorite restaurants in the area, Millie’s. While we dealt with the Recycle Shop, Lin picked up Mike and Denise Hogan at the airport, so they joined us for lunch—I love these informal times where dancers really get acquainted. It was especially great to have Denise here with us!

Our event opened with a Welcome dance at 3:00 pm. Pre-rounds began at 7:00 pm for the evening dance with Mitchell and Chelsea Thompson. For many years, Friday night’s dance has been a Beach Party with beach balls and casual dress beach attire. This year, the balls flew across the dance floor and Mike and Mitchell had chosen beach music to dance to. What a fun-filled way to begin the weekend.

Looking Back at Saturday & Some Surprises

On Saturday morning, we focused on round dancing. The morning began with an introduction to rounds with the waltz rhythm at 9:00 am, and several couples enjoyed Mitchell’s easy way of teaching. Then at 10:30 am, Mitchell and Chelsea provided a Foxtrot clinic to help dancers move up from a level three dancer to four. Super-informative.

Several dancers began going through the boxes of free clothing. One dancer from Sierra Vista, Arizona, took several garbage bags home for their new dancer class. Such a better way of using the clothing instead of giving them to Goodwill.

Sadly, we canceled our tradition potluck luncheon because our committee member who headed that had to quit the committee. We organized all the round dancers to go to Jimmy’s Cafe, another favorite restaurant near the dance hall, and wanted to sit together, but the group was too big, so we had to split up.

On Saturday afternoon, we focused on square dancing. The afternoon started with Mike Hogan doing singing calls for one hour and we thoroughly enjoyed his gorgeous voice. Then he did a plus workshop for an hour and a half, focusing on calls he noticed we needed help on—thank God! Then he did thirty minutes of high energy and hot hash. He ended the hot hash portion with Lin’s favorite song, “Fisherman’s Luck,” and had the place rocking. We wondered about putting the high energy section at the end of the afternoon, but the dancers jumped in and enjoyed it completely.

Saturday evening began with an hour of pre-rounds with Mitchell and Chelsea—such a wonderful round dance cuer and a wife/partner who loves to dance and jumps in and dances with any single either part.

The evening continued with Mike Hogan and his exceptional calling and Mitchell cuing. A highlight of Saturday night with Mike Hogan always is his rendition of “Pink Cadillac”—this year was no different, but he added help. Mitchell joined him and the crowd went wild.

Looking Back at Sunday & Our Hilarious Shenanigans

On Sunday morning, Hot August Nights has a reputation to uphold with shenanigans galore and Mike added to it. He did progressive squares, Sicilian Circles, and Air Raid. The dancers jumped in and did Scatter Promenade on their own.

We had eleven squares both nights and felt this was a tremendous success after the two-year hiatus. The dance commitment overwhelmed us this year. In 2019, we had twenty-two squares and twenty couples preregistered for 2020 (which was canceled, so we rolled them over). This year with eleven squares, we had twenty couples preregistered, so we gave away two free Hot August Nights registrations and two free room nights at our host hotel. Our Hot August Nights dancers are the best!

Finally,

Looking back, the laughter, the smiles and the hugs from Hot August Nights marked it a success for me more than anything else. Dancers seemed so ready to be out and dancing again.

Have you been to a big dance event recently? How did it go? Did you laugh a lot? Smile? Give and get hugs?


~NEW ONLINE WEBINAR BY ME—Would you be interested in an online class about writing a life story, either yours or someone else’s? I’m planning on doing a webinar in September on this subject. Let me know if you’re interested at larada@icloud.com. Specific information next week.

~WATCH MY NEW INTERVIEW on Douglas Coleman’s show dated August 5, 2022.

~MY FIRST AUDIOBOOK IS AVAILABLE: Go to Audible to buy my first audiobook, Let Me Tell You a Story. I’m working on Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? but have gotten stalled with shingles.

~Do you listen to podcasts? Here are three podcasts with interviews about my new book & some Flippo stories:

Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo meme
There’s still time to grab beach time with Flippo’s e-book!

~Have you bought a copy of Flippo’s biography yet? Believe it or not—it’s been two years. Go here for your hardback or paperback: https://www.laradasbooks.com or at Amazon.

~For me, it’s Christmas all year long! Here’s a variety of Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When It’s Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A

~Wish You Were Here: A Novel by Jodi Picoult, one of my favorite authors, deals with the COVID pandemic in fiction as opposed to my nonfiction book. Check it out! Interesting story!

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? mem
Read, reflect and respond—and heal!

~What happened to you in 2020-2021 during the coronavirus pandemic? Do you care? Are you on a spiritual path? Do you want to heal from the horrible effects of the pandemic of 2020? Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com

My Thoughts · square dance

My First CALLERLAB Experience–Through the Eyes of a Dancer

I wrote the following article for the June issue of Square Dance Magazine–enjoy!

Lin & me - Flippo dance

“Why don’t Lin and you ever come to CALLERLAB?” Eric Henerlau asked me four years ago as I drove him to the airport after the Spring Fling festival in Albuquerque, NM.

“I’m not a caller” was my quick response. He explained CALLERLAB wants dancers to attend and would welcome us because we have promoted square dancing locally and nationally and would have ideas to share.

When I heard that CALLERLAB was coming to Albuquerque in 2018, I remembered Eric’s suggestion and made the commitment to attend. The decision was worth it.

As I tentatively stepped in the hallway Sunday night for the Social Hour to kick off CALLERLAB, I felt at home immediately as I scanned the room and realized how many of the callers I knew. Different callers and their wives warmly welcomed me, and not once did I hear, “What are you doing here?”

When Denise Hogan saw me, she rushed over and hugged me, and we reconnected after not seeing each other for a while. Mike joined us shortly and told me that our local club, Duke City Singles and Doubles Square Dance Club, would be mentioned in his keynote address the next morning.

And so he did—we were one of the case studies mentioned. Mike had me stand up and be recognized as being on the board when major changes happened for our club. After his speech, I was shocked; women quizzed me in the bathroom. I just happened to have the postcard we used to promote our lessons with me, and they

took a photo of it. Throughout the week, people stopped me and wanted a quick summary of what we did. We had several old postcards left over, so I gave them away.

I so appreciated that CALLERLAB provided a strand of marketing and promotional seminars because that’s my passion. I also attended a couple of caller seminars, and my respect of what callers do before they go on stage increased 1000%.

I was thrilled with the Marketing Manual created by the Marketing committee and plan to use it this year when we promote our lessons. In fact, we’re having Mike Hogan do a Marketing Seminar in Albuquerque, NM, the Sunday afternoon of Hot August Nights this year.

I thoroughly enjoyed the panel of the Legends and enjoyed the presenters’ stories, but was so sad that Bob Brundage couldn’t attend.

At each one of the marketing and promoting sessions, I gleaned an idea to incorporate into our advertising plan—great strategies from a variety of presenters all over the United States.

One caller workshop I attended was on Sustainable Square Dancing, facilitated by Vernon Jones. For the last five years, I have been involved in promoting our lessons, and it breaks my heart to see how many people we lose each year. We have to make the lesson sequence shorter to retain more dancers. Hearing the success stories from the panel and attendees convinced me that this might be a viable solution.

I’m writing the authorized biography of Marshall Flippo. In my weekly interviews with Flippo, in describing his lessons experience, he said, “We had 10 lessons and then we were square dancers!” Do we need to rethink what we are doing—could

Sustainable Square Dancing be the answer? After the workshop, I was excited with the possibilities.

I had the privilege of meeting Jim Mayo, Elmer Sheffield and Melton Luttrell. Since CALLERLAB, I’ve interviewed Jim Mayo and Melton Luttrell for the Flippo biography. I also had a special time with Flippo to work on his book.

I relished the conversations about square dancing and promoting shared at any meal time. It was rich conversation and an opportunity to network with like-minded people from around the world.

One highlight for me was the banquet Tuesday night. I sat at Mike Hogan’s table and had the pleasure of visiting with Mike and Denise Hogan, Mike Seastrom and Lisa, Andrith Davis and Michael Turley. At this banquet, I witnessed Jim Mayo receive the Lifetime Achievement award—so deserving. Jim and Marshall Flippo are the only two members who have ever received this award!

Tuesday night during the square dance, a couple of young women and a man stood outside in the hall, and they asked me what was going on. They were fascinated by the square dancing—a perfect opportunity for the promoter that I am. We talked, and I encouraged them to go in the hall and watch. I also found out where they lived and assured them that there was square dancing in their area.

The three days were jam packed with activity, but my most noted observation was the fraternity CALLERLAB is for callers—many special relationships that have spanned many years.

I highly recommend CALLERLAB to any dancer.

Lin.Larada Collage


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For more information about square dance lessons starting Thursday, September 20, 2018, visit Duke City Singles & Doubles Square Dance Club