Grab your partner and do-si-do to the California State Square Dance Convention in Turlock this weekend.
The 54th annual event, put on by the California State Square Dance Council, travels to different cities in California and stops in Turlock for the first time this year. The convention began Friday and continues through Sunday at the fairgrounds. Dances will be held today and Sunday in four buildings each afternoon and evening. The public is invited to watch any of the dances for free.
Convention Chairman John Schol said about 1,000 dancers from across California, the country and as far away as Germany are attending. There are workshops during the day for convention-goers. Then there are dances lasting until 10:30 p.m. each weekend night. The dancers are separated by skill level – from beginners and intermediate to advanced, as well as couples-only in the round dancing.
“The caller is going to be calling and we’re going to be dancing each day,” Schol said.
Clubs from across the state are invited to the convention, including local groups such as the Oakdale Squares, Turlock Steppin Pards and Twain Harte Twirlers. Participants dress casually for afternoon dances and wear their square-dance duds for the evening events.
Schol said the event attracts dancers of all ages; this year the youngest is 11 years old and the oldest is about 90. Tonight from 6:30 to 7:30 in Building E2, there will be a special dance competition.
Last year, the convention was in Victorville; next year, it will be in San Diego.
“I think a lot of people are amazed. I think a lot of people come and watch and say, ‘I wish I could do that,’ ” Schol said. “And they can. Take some lessons and you can. I mean, who wouldn’t want to swing a pretty lady around on the dance floor?”