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News Every Day |

Howard square dance clubs cultivate community through dancing

Howard square dance clubs cultivate community through dancing

Led by caller Doren McBroom, members of The Crossfires Club square danced hand in hand leading one another across the dance floor at Columbia Presbyterian Church.

Founded by Chip Campbell in 2016, the club is composed of men and women of varying ages and caters to experienced dancers. Campbell said since he founded the club, it has become a place where older adults in the community can go to exercise and socialize.

“For older people especially, exercise and socializing are the two things people really need to stick around,” he said. “This gets people out, gets people moving and meeting a lot of different people.”

The club is part of the Mason-Dixon Square Dancers Federation, which aims to set “friendship to music” by cultivating community through square dancing. Sixteen clubs are located in Howard, Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Frederick and Prince George’s counties as well as Baltimore City and Washington, D.C.

The federation’s goal is to “provide a time and place to meet every dancer’s needs so they can enjoy dancing with friendly and welcoming people,” according to its website.

Holding regular dance classes and hosting annual festivals such as the Washington Area Square Dancers Cooperative Association Spring Festival in March and The Star Spangled Banner Festival in July, the federation brings together communities of square dancers from across the region and state.

Helena Jester, a board member for the federation, said it has created an environment where dancers are able to build friendships that go beyond the dance floor.

“Just by dancing together and then talking to each other between the tips, you start to develop friendships,” she said. “I have friends that I met through square dancing that I’ve been friends with for over 40 years because we started out with a shared love of square dancing.”

Jester said along with the social benefits of square dancing, there are also health benefits.

“[Square dancing] keeps you mentally and physically fit because you have to listen to the caller and do what they say and it’s not the same thing every time,” she said.

Square dancing can burn as many calories as riding a bicycle, swimming or walking. It also increases flexibility and stamina, improves balance and posture, reduces stress and tension and tones the entire body, according to the federation.

Jackie Boggs, 63, of Sykesville, has been a part of the club for about three years.

Square dancing for the first time in college, she stopped after she got married and had children, but returned to it about five years ago.

Boggs said since being a part of the club her dancing has improved.

“Square dance is like any sport or activity, if you don’t practice it, you lose it or you don’t get better,” she said.

North of Columbia, Tom Thumb Squares holds weekly and bimonthly square dance classes at Glen Mar Church and Hollifield Station Elementary School in Ellicott City.

Led by Jim Councill, the club was named for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad locomotive, “Tom Thumb,” known as”] the first successful steam locomotive in the country, according to the B&O Railroad Museum.

Councill said he enjoys the social aspect of the club.

”] The Mason-Dixon federation “is a great social organization, the people are very nice and it’s a fun athletic event to get you moving around and working up a sweat,” he said.

Andy and Fayette Stewart, of Ellicott City, have been a part of the club for seven years.

Square dancing for the first time more than a decade ago when they lived in Missouri, then later in Texas, they wanted to continue square dancing when they moved to Ellicott City.

Andy said square dancing has helped them make friends.

“[Square dancing] gives you an immediate group of people that you have something in common with when you move to an area,” he said.

Fayette said square dancing is a “fun time.”

“It’s hard to tell people how much fun square dancing is until they get involved,” she said. “It makes you a better person because you’re using your brain and you’re exercising and you’re having fun with other people.”

The Crossfires Club meets the first and third Sundays at Columbia Presbyterian Church at 10001 Route 108 from 2:30-5 p.m.

Tom Thumb Squares meets Tuesdays at Glen Mar Church at 4701 New Cut Road in Ellicott City from 7-9 p.m., first and third Fridays, September through June at Hollifield Elementary School at 8701 Stonehouse Drive in Ellicott City and Mondays at Westowne Elementary at 401 Harlem Lane in Catonsville from 7:30-9:30 p.m.

  • March 3, 2024: Square dancers of The Crossfire Club dance...

    March 3, 2024: Square dancers of The Crossfire Club dance during their monthly gathering at Columbia Presbyterian Church.(John Gillis/Freelance)

  • A couple hold hands during a dance at a gathering...

    A couple hold hands during a dance at a gathering of square dancers of The Crossfire Club at Columbia Presbyterian Church.(John Gillis/Freelance)

  • Jackie Boggs of The Crossfire Club dances at a square...

    Jackie Boggs of The Crossfire Club dances at a square dance at Columbia Presbyterian Church.(John Gillis/Freelance)

  • Matthew Steinbach and Julie Collins bow to each other after...

    Matthew Steinbach and Julie Collins bow to each other after a dance at a gathering of The Crossfire Club square dancers at Columbia Presbyterian Church.(John Gillis/Freelance)

  • Members of The Crossfire Club chat between dances during as...

    Members of The Crossfire Club chat between dances during as square dance at Columbia Presbyterian Church.(John Gillis/Freelance)

  • Fayette Stewart claps after a dance during a gathering of...

    Fayette Stewart claps after a dance during a gathering of The Crossfire Club square dancers at Columbia Presbyterian Church.(John Gillis/Freelance)

  • C.T. Montgomary of The Crossfire Club dances at a square...

    C.T. Montgomary of The Crossfire Club dances at a square dance at Columbia Presbyterian Church.(John Gillis/Freelance)

  • March 3, 2024: Caller Dorren McBroom calls a square dance...

    March 3, 2024: Caller Dorren McBroom calls a square dance at a gathering of The Crossfire Club at Columbia Presbyterian Church.(John Gillis/Freelance)

  • Square dancers of The Crossfire Club dance at Columbia Presbyterian...

    Square dancers of The Crossfire Club dance at Columbia Presbyterian Church.(John Gillis/Freelance)

  • Chip Cambell, founder of The Crossfire Club, dances with Nancy...

    Chip Cambell, founder of The Crossfire Club, dances with Nancy Koles during a square dance at Columbia Presbyterian Church.(John Gillis/Freelance)

  • Square dancers of The Crossfire Club dance during their monthly...

    Square dancers of The Crossfire Club dance during their monthly gathering at Columbia Presbyterian Church.(John Gillis/Freelance)

  • Square dancers of The Crossfire Club dance at Columbia Presbyterian...

    Square dancers of The Crossfire Club dance at Columbia Presbyterian Church.(John Gillis/Freelance)

  • Roger Berry laughs during a dance at a gathering of...

    Roger Berry laughs during a dance at a gathering of square dancers of The Crossfire Club at Columbia Presbyterian Church.(John Gillis/Freelance)

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