Anchorage folk dancers keep a lively home on Government Hill. Eight dance clubs make the Anchorage Square and Round Dance Center active with calls, twirls and promenades. On Wednesday, the Stardusters Square Dance Club attracted a dozen dancers to its weekly lesson.
Caller Mike Preskitt hosts the gatherings, which combine beginning and experienced dancers in an informal environment. His wife Debbie, who helps organize the club, said they provide an atmosphere that keeps dancers coming back. “It’s like a big family that gets along,” she said. The club was founded more than 35 years ago.
Wednesday’s lesson included a small but broad sample of the Anchorage square dance community. Dancers ranged from 13 to 85 years old. Herb Worthley, the oldest member, said he’s been square dancing since he was in his 20s. Seventeen-year-old Freddy Reyes was trying it for the very first time.
Megan Green, 16, convinced Reyes to give it a shot. He said he was glad he did. “She was telling me about how much fun she was having, and I can see why now. Even though it's hard and I twist people the way they're not supposed to, it's so much fun. I can't stop smiling and it's actually starting to hurt."
Debbie Preskitt said Wednesday lessons are open to all and are the perfect place to start. After about 16 weeks of instruction, she said, dancers are ready to join in the “mainstream” dances that the club holds about twice a month. Those aren’t open to newbies, she said.
Although Sandy and Roger have a lot of dance experience in their 48 years of marriage, they come to the Wednesday lessons for the relaxed environment.
“It’s good, clean, friendly fun,” Roger said. "There’s no alcohol. Most everybody is doing it for the fun of it."
Sandy said she prefers to keep it light. “We hope to not have too serious a group,” she said. “We all make mistakes.”
Ginger Gorsuch personified that easygoing spirit. Her smiles and laughter stood out even among this happy group. She shared the experience with her 13-year-old grandson, James -- her buddy, as she calls him. Together they do-si-doed and allemanded with three other couples in a group called a set.
They made progress in learning square dance steps together. But Ginger said they were also making something much more special. “We’re making a memory that will never go away,” she said.
For more information on upcoming Stardusters events, check out their website.
Wednesday night lessons are $8 per person.