Albuquerque · My Thoughts · square dance

Hot August Nights, 2019 Sets Records!

2019 Hot August Nights flyer
Hot August Nights Flyer

            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.

FRIDAY

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

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.

SUNDAY

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!

Hot August Nights 2019 Committee
The Hot August Nights Committee, 2019

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!


Check out my web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

Visit my Etsy Shop for all my booksLarada’s Reading Loft.

Whitey & Gladys Puerling were playful friends of Flippo’s who created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

Be the 200th to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography! You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like? Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways! https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

Dancing · family · My Thoughts · square dance

He’s a Winner!

Lin Miller, my husband, received a outstanding honor last night at the New Mexico Square and Round Festival in Roswell, New Mexico, They inducted him into the Hall of Fame for his work and support of square and round dancing in the state.

Lin’s Plaque and Badge

A friend nominated him two years ago, and I helped her put the paperwork together. Lin’s ex-wife contributed information about his dancing when they were together. We re-worked the application this year, because he wasn’t selected last year. My friend and I had secret meetings, telling Lin she had interests my books—he had no idea.

Just because someone is nominated doesn’t mean he or she is automatically in and in that year—sometimes it takes two years to actually receive this treasured recognition. I had won this award in 2007 and found out later that I had been nominated the year before, so it took me two times.

On top of that, the person in charge of the award this year didn’t let me know outright that Lin had won but hinted at it, so I wondered.

As we neared the festival, Lin and I ended up talking about the award some, speculating who might win, and I kept my reactions and tone as neutral as possible to not give it away.

This annual festival means a lot to me. It’s the one chance for our state square and round dance family to come together for a fun-filled weekend at various sites around the state. I always anticipate who’s going to be there and lament the loss of one of our dancers. I love our New Mexico state square and round dance members!

Greg Tillery calling with help from an Alien
Larada and Lin decked out the Alien Invasion!
Holly and Lin enjoying Roswell!

The theme this year for the festival, “Strangers Thing Happen,” ignited in a lot of us a frivolous, childlike celebration of Roswell’s claim to fame—the alien invasion. Many of us wore the festival’s lime green t-shirts on Saturday during the day with lights attached. Dancers played with the theme all weekend, and they talked about aliens, spaceships and other worldly matter—what fun! We blamed any mistakes made in the squares on “Aliens!”

The award ceremony was Saturday night. The anticipation mounted for me as the time drew closer. The Grand March started the evening’s activities, then it was time. The MC described the recipient without using his/her name, keeping us in suspense until it’s obvious who the recipient is. A dear round dance cuer received the first award, and my hands shook.

Finally the time came. I had told Lin before we arrived on Friday that I wanted to get lots of pictures this weekend, so he had my phone in his pocket. I didn’t want him to be suspicious when I needed my phone for the Hall of Fame awards. I had it out taking pictures of the first winner, so I caught him in total shock when he realized he was next.

Lin realized he won!

As he hugged me, he asked if I knew, and I had tears in my eyes when I nodded my head. His reaction was precious and priceless. In a rate moment of being speechless, he went on stage to receive a name badge and plaque.

Lin with his plaque and badge!

During the rest of the evening, dancers congratulated him. You may wonder what he did or does to receive this award.

For over ten years, he’s been the Promotions person for the Albuquerque Square Dance Center, sending out emails to notify dancers of up and coming events, so the state dancers knew what he does there. Also, he has been the treasurer for Hot August Nights for twelve years. But most recently, in 2013 Lin volunteered to be president of our square dance club, Duke City Singles and Doubles, when it was dying with only 27 members and no one wanting to take the leadership. In five years, he built it up to 92 active members. This changed the face of square dancing in Albuquerque because those 92 members went on to join other clubs growing square and round dancing across the city.

Lin ignites any event he attends with his high energy and positive attitude, and because of his friendly nature, he loves to visit with old and new friends during the breaks. His sense of humor and jokes keep people laughing, so he is an asset to this activity for sure.

The state honored this hard-working man this weekend, and he truly deserved it! You’re welcome to give Lin congratulatory comments here!


Check out my web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

FATHER’S DAY SPECIALS: 25% off of 2 BOOK BUNDLE: This Tumbleweed Landed & When Will Papa Get Home? paper copies. Visit my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft, to purchase my books.

Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

Do you want to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography? Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways! https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

Christmas · family · My Thoughts · square dance

Lin & Larada’s Christmas Letter

Our Christmas newsletter is one of my favorite traditions–I have been sending out a Christmas letter for 30 years. Here’s this year!

Enjoy!

Merry Christmas to you and yours! Feliz Navidad!

Check out my web site for information about my books: https://www.laradasbooks.com

Check out my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft for last minute sales!

Life Lessons · My Thoughts · square dance

A Celebration of Marshall Flippo

Cover MemorialToday, November 26, 2018 loved ones gathered at Elliott-Hamil Funeral Home in Abilene, Texas to celebrate the life of Marshall Flippo, and what a celebration it was!

Lin and I arrived at the funeral home forty-five minutes early, and the reception area already overflowed with callers and dancer friends. We greeted dear friends from all over the country who had come to honor a true legend. We were ushered into the chapel early. The majority of the people present were professional callers from all over the United State–the cream of the crop for sure. We continued greeting each other with hugs and subdued smiles.

I looked for Mary Sheehan Johnson, a dear friend of Flip’s who took him to Asilomar in April for his last visit. Asilomar was his favorite festival in his career with its beautiful beach side setting and the organization of Bob and Becky Osgood. We found each other and felt like we were old friends–our common denominator–Flippo.

Kayla Jones began the service with beautiful soft music. Reverent David Hargrove officially opened the service with a warm greeting, Flippo’s obituary and a prayer.

Then Jon, Deborah, Vernon and Kayla Jones sang a beloved hymn, “The Old Rugged Cross.” With the majority of attendees being callers and singers, many joined in the singing. What a beautiful start!

Gary Shoemake gave the first eulogy with heartfelt stories. His longtime friendship with Flippo shined through his words and tears. We laughed and cried in response to his stories. I cried with my dear friend and his raw emotion. Afterwards, we recited the familiar Twenty-Third Psalm.

Wade Driver, Mike Seastrom, and Gary Shoemake sang, “Amazing Grace,” another beautiful hymn that many in the audience sang. What a delight to have of these callers sing!

Melton Luttrell, Flippo’s long-time best friend, did a second eulogy with stories of Flippo’s early years. Melton’s deep love for Flippo grabbed my heart–they were best friends for decades. Then Reverend Hargrove shared several Scripture verses and a message of hope, personalized with Flippo stories–many that highlighted the precious father-son relationship that Flippo had with his dear son, John. He ended this part with us saying The Lord’s Prayer.

Ken Bower, Tony Oxendine, and Melton Luttrell sang the last song of the service, “Just A Closer Walk with Thee,” another song that made me cry. I loved hearing all of Flip’s dear friends give tribute to him through music and song.

Stan Jeffus shared a beautiful video presentation honoring “Precious Memories” of Flippo that had us laughing one minute and crying the next. Stan had Flippo’s songs playing in the background with photos of Flippo with so many friends through the years. The highlight were videos of many of the skits that Flippo was famous for: The Boxer and “I Don’t Look Good Naked Anymore.” Again we laughed and cried.

Boxer and Frank
Flippo Doing The Boxer Skit

Reverend Hargrove ended the service with the Benediction, then we drove to the Wagon Wheel Hall, a square dance hall that Flippo and Neeca helped build many years ago. The Abilene Square/Round Dancers provided a delicious dinner.

Then friends spent a couple hours telling Flippo stories–full of love and admiration for Flip and lots of humor. Jon Jones started the sharing with playing Flippo’s first recorded song, “The Auctioneer” and a square tried to dance it but had trouble with the figures because we don’t do some of them in square dancing anymore. Jay Henderson played Jerry Story’s tribute to the three legends in square dancing that died in the last month: Frank Lane, Marshall Flippo and Lee Kopman. Lin and I danced that time and it was so precious.

The end came–people lingered. Stories continue out the door. It was hard to leave this festive day. To me, this was the best celebration of someone’s life I’ve ever been to–lots of stories, laughter and tears about a man we all loved dearly. John and Shelly and Neeca–you did a great job in honoring Flip. I will never forget this day!

Paul Cote recorded Flippo’s Memorial Service using Facebook Live. Go and watch this awesome service celebrating Flippo. Here’s the link: https://www.facebook.com/paul.cote.104/videos/10215219947390187/

 

 

My Thoughts · poetry

Why We Square Dance–Why I Dance!

Here’s my poem explaining why I dance – hope you enjoy it!

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It’s a Friday night

Or

A Saturday night

A dance night!

The week lasted for eons

grueling

I had my work face on for five days

and I kept going.

I finished this week

Exhausted!

My family needs drained me

I am welted

and

am ready to dissolve into bed!

But it’s my dance night.

I breathe deeply,

and I know!

I select my square dance outfit.

What do I feel like tonight?

Red or turquoise

Southwest design or frilly lace?

The familiarity of my weekly routine

takes over

Systematically I put on my outfit

and

as each layer goes on,

my perspective and energy level changes!

First my hose

With a deep breath, I release part of my stress

Then my pettipants

Oh my, it’s going—another deep breath

Then my top and skirt

My goodness—a glimmer of hope

Then my belt

A smile slowly crosses my lips

Next my matching petticoat and shoes

Yes, I sigh with relief

Finally, my club badge

To identify who I am—

A square dancer!

A spray to finish my hair

a touch of lipgloss

A final look in the mirror

A pirouette and a spin

crinoline flowing

I am complete!

My exhaustion replaced with anticipation!

The drive to the dance hall

becomes a time tunnel

a vacuum

a timeless space

void of the demands of this world

stress free

relaxing

Either soft music in the background

Or

a compatible silence

Or

a casual conversation

A bridge between the world out there

With its demands

And the dance world

With its pleasures!

Friends greet me as I enter the dance hall—my dance family

The music starts

I step onto the dance floor

and I am free!

The carefree child within me

spins round and around

claps her hands

and

Shouts for joy!

I am free!

The tip starts,

and I am safe

to spend two hours

In sheer joy and ecstasy!

I drop the world’s cares and concerns,

at the door,

kicking them out of view!

So if you have problems in your world, join me

and

leave them at the door!

If you are angry or sad

The magic begins

when you show up

and

dress up!

The music starts

and

I step onto the dance floor!

And then the real magic takes over!

Cares melt down my shoulders

and flitter away on a breath

giving a lightness to my step

Sorrows cluster together

and ride away on an angel’s wings.

Music playing

surrounded by dear friends

I step onto the dance floor

It is a safe place

And

I am free!

That’s why I dance!

Slogo red 75


Do you need a release from the stress and strain of the week? Have you ever tried square dancing? It’s available across the USA and the world! Try square dancing!

Duke City Singles and Doubles Square Dance Club – Lessons start Thursday, September 20, 2018.

Check out Larada’s web site

50% off on Labor Day Sales at Larada’s Etsy Shop: Larada’s Reading Loft

My Thoughts

Live Lively, Square Dance!

HAN 2018 Committee
Hot August Nights Committee

Hot August Nights in Albuquerque, NM is a square and round dance festival that I have chaired for 12 years. We just finished it, and I am exhausted–but a good exhausted. My feet hurt, I laughed so much I’m hoarse, and I can hardly wait until next year!

Square dancing is my passion–my Mom danced one tip (about 10-15 minutes) the night before I was born, so I was born dancing. I danced as through my twenties then took a twenty year break and have been back dancing now for about twenty-five years.

Why square dance in 2018–isn’t it ole fashion? Look at our dresses–are you kidding! Today’s square dancing is different than what you did in junior high many years ago. Modern Western Square Dancing

is one of two American types of square dancing, along with traditional square dance.  As a dance form, modern western square dance grew out of traditional square dance in the American West. The term western square dance, for some, is synonymous with “cowboy dance” or traditional western square dance

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modern_western_square_dance

We dance to all types of music and we have many more calls than the Traditional square dancing did that you’re familiar with from junior high school.

What are the benefits of square dancing?

  • For me, the social element is key–I now have friends all over the USA and the world who I have met in a square. It’s fun exercise for the body and mind–I don’t even know I’m dancing!
  • I love to square dance–I’m challenged to be a good listener to the caller, I work with seven others to complete the calls and I do all this to music. Our callers use a variety of music genres–in fact, this weekend our caller, Mike Hogan, used 80’s and 90’s rock songs, and it was fabulous.
  • You may ask if square dancing is good exercise. My husband and I usually dance Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights each week.

This week we dance Wednesday and Thursday night at our weekly club before the festival. At this festival, we danced Friday afternoon and evening, Saturday morning, afternoon and evening and Sunday morning. I wear a FitBit, so I can tell you my steps for these days:

  • Wednesday – 13, 158
  • Thursday – 13,836
  • Friday – 22,869
  • Saturday – 26,800
  • Sunday – 10,114

So you can see from these numbers that I get a lot of exercise out while dancing.

Square dancing has been around for around 200 years and is honored all over the United States and the world. It is the state dance for twenty-three states: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, and Washington.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._state_dances

One last thing I love about square dancing–I get to be rowdy, shout and holler and have a great time. At this event on Saturday after our potluck, several on the committee were wearing our stylish new aprons, and impromptu we did a Congo Line around the squares and the caller joined in, and soon many of the dancers were snaking around the squares–often a caller puts on great music when the squares are forming, so away we went.

Congo Line
The Congo Line Happened!

We had planned a chorus line in front of the caller but we got sidetracked with the Congo Line. Then we did an all girl Chorus Line in front of the caller during the afternoon. Crazy fun that we do at this festival!

Chorus Line
The Chorus Line in our aprons!

We scatter promenade throughout the weekend, mixing up the people more–just for fun!

HAN 2018 Committee Crazy
Hot August Nights Committee A Little Crazy!

Have you ever square danced? When? Where? Do you think square dancing is boring?Do you need to exercise and just don’t want to because it’s no fun?


Visit our Hot August Nights web site: http://larada.wixsite.com/hotaugustnights

For square dance lessons in the Albuquerque area, go to our web site:  Duke City Singles and Doubles Square Dance Club

Check out my web site and take a look at all my books and cookbooks: https://www.laradasbooks.com

Check out my Etsy Shop for August Sales: Larada’s Reading Loft