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    May 11
    Dark. No dance.

    May 25
    Terry Halley, caller
    Ken Prattt, cuer

    The Checkerboard Squares dance at the Rockwood Grange, located at 183rd and Southeast Stark Street between the Taco Time restaurant and the Motel 6 in Gresham, Ore. Admission: $5 for non-members.

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Checkerboard President is Chair of 2013 Summer Festival

Plans are moving forward for the July 19-21 summer square dance festival at Reynolds High School. The theme is “Hot fun in the summertime.” The official outfits for men and women will sport vintage cars on the fabric.

This year, new features will include a high-energy dance and hexagon “squares.” Dry camping at the school campus will be available for RVers.


Chinese New Year Dance

Celebrate the Chinese New Year at the Feb. 9 dance the Checkerboard Squares club is hosting. Come dressed for the occasion. The caller will be Mike Stout; the cuer will be Ken Pratt.

On Feb. 23, K.C. Curtis will be calling the Checkerboard’s dance. Debbie Combs will cue.

For both dances, intermediate rounds start at 7:30 p.m., and mainstream square dancing starts at 8 p.m. Every third tip is plus.

The Checkerboard Squares dance at the Rockwood Grange, 183rd and Southeast Stark.

Checkerboards Throw Birthday Party Nov. 10

The Checkerboard Squares invite you to circle Nov. 10 on your calendar. Save that date for our 52nd birthday dance.

Now let’s dream about the ideal birthday party. For starters, at ideal birthday parties you mingle and chat with your friends. (That’s the best part.) You can do that at our birthday dance. Ideal birthday parties serve cake. We’ll have cake plus a full buffet of delicious treats at our 10 p.m. break. (The Checkerboards are known for their cooking.) Ideal birthday parties mean dressing up. You’re welcome to wear your square dance finest to our birthday dance.

Ideal birthday parties include games and activities. At our party, you can dance nonstop all evening. (The caller and cuer may even teach some new moves as Craig Abercrombie did at a recent Checkerboard dance.) Ideal birthday parties have gifts. We’ll give away door prizes to some lucky people, plus split the pot. (Yes, at our party, the guests get the gifts.)

Ideal birthday parties have surprises. Sorry, I can’t spill our secrets. (You’ll have to trust me on this one.) OK, I think you get the idea. This dance is going to be fun. You won’t want to miss it. We hope to see you dancing!

Aug. 31, 2012, Dance Benefits the Salvation Army

The Portland area council’s Aug. 31 dance held at the Oak Grove Community Center raised $401 for the Salvation Army. All proceeds will go to the Salvation Army. This organization often experiences a lack of funds during the summer months, and the PAC wanted to help out. Oak Grove donated the use of its building for the dance. Caller and cuers also donated their time. The Wild Cards emceed. Rounds began at 7:30 p.m.; squares started at 8 p.m. Casual attire was welcome; square dance attire was fine, too!

Subtle Touches Can Carry off a Dance Theme

Attendance was good at the Checkerboard Squares recent “dog days of summer” dance. The club carried off the “dog days” theme by serving hot dogs. But a special dessert wins first prize for creativity: A club member made peanut butter cookies, and cut them out with a dog bone-shaped cookie cutter. She served the cookies in a new blue dog dish she bought at Dollar Tree. (She assured us she washed the bowl.)

At first, diners shyed away from the dog dish. But when club members started munching the tasty treats, visitors began emptying the bowl. 

Folks seemed to have a great time at the dance. But I’m guessing that what they will still remember a year from now will be that dog dish full of bone-shaped cookies. 

A little creativity is most important for carrying off a successful dance theme.

Independent Dancers Could Change Face of Square Dancing

I’m meeting increasing numbers of dancers who have chosen to go independent rather than belong to a square dance club. Who can blame them? No dues. No kitchen duty and door duty. No cooking or buying potluck food before a dance. No arriving at the hall two hours early to decorate. No meetings to attend. Just pick your favorite venue, pay the $5, and dance the night away.

Square dancers “star through” at a dance.

A long-time square dancer and club member recently told me, “I’m tired.” Square dancing was one of the areas she was considering dropping. Contributing square dance club members face an increasing amount of work as clubs shrink and members grow busier, become older or die. A quick tour of the Boring Barn’s walls tells the story of dozens of once-thriving clubs that have folded and now are just a pennant on a wall, a name, a memory.

If the trend of shrinking and dying clubs and a growing population of independent dancers continues, the club model for square dancing could end. Instead of club members banding together to sponsor dances twice a month on competing nights, two or three for-profit venues in a city would host weekly or bi-weekly square dances. Entrance prices would have to go up. Food, drinks or snacks would no longer be free. But all dancers would have to do is show up.

The advantage to this scenario is that dances would be better attended because fewer venues would exist. Shrinking clubs would no longer have to worry about recruiting new members for lessons, planning and advertising dance themes, and wearing themselves out. 

The disadvantage? You decide. The choices the square dance community is now making are actually a vote. Is the present club model superior to a for-profit square dance model? Are the benefits of club membership worth the work? Should the club model continue? But if square dancing were to become a business, would it survive?

Tony Haskins, Aug. 8, 1950 – March 16, 2012

Tony Haskins served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam era. He was chairman of the Oregon State Grange's veteran's committee.

Tony Haskins, beloved member of the Checkerboard Squares, died of a heart attack on March 16, 2012. He was 61 years old.

 Tony served as president of the Portland Area Council of square and round dancers. He also was first vice president of the Oregon Federation of Square and Round Dancers. He was poised to become state federation president next year, had he lived. His black Ram pickup pulled many a float in the Starlight and Gresham Teddy Bear parades.

The Grange was another of Tony’s interests. He was master (president) of the Rockwood Grange. He served as chairman of the Oregon State Grange’s veteran’s committee.

On Mondays and Wednesdays, Tony bowled on two senior bowling leagues.

He was a member of Greater Grace Lutheran Brethren Church. He was responsible for the church’s Snow Cap donation barrel and enjoyed delivering the collected food to Snow Cap.

Tony was born in Prairie City, Ore., and grew up in Bates, Ore., a lumber mill town. During his high school years, he played the trumpet, often performing taps at military funerals. He enjoyed cross-country skiing and snowshoeing to his family’s mountain cabin on a gold mining claim. He was an excellent guitar player with a country-style voice.

Following high school, Tony served twice in the U.S. Army. He was in the infantry and was a chaplain’s assistant. He attended college in Idaho where he studied journalism and restaurant management. Restaurant management became his career. He was restaurant manager for the Sambos chain in California, where he oversaw multiple restaurants as a district manager. He managed many other restaurants until he retired at age 45.

Tony was known for his sense of humor, his wide smile and his big heart. We love you, Tony, and we miss you. We will never forget you.