Lake Norman & Mooresville

Hugs, dances and instant friends

Squares, rounds, corners and lines sound like geometry, but put them together with a caller, a cuer and music and you have an evening of dance with The Spinning Moors.

The Spinning Moors, a modern square dance club, meet at Mooresville's War Memorial Building the second and fourth Saturdays of each month. The club is celebrating its 34th anniversary this year.

"'Yellow Rock' is my favorite call," said club President Jack Untener of China Grove, as he gives his wife, club co-President Brenda, a hug.

"Yellow Rock" and "Red Rock" are common signals to square dancers: "Yellow Rock" means hug your corner; "Red Rock" means hug your partner.

There is plenty of hugging: The dance club is as much about community as it is about dance.

Floe and John Roberts and Pat Oestreich are founders of The Spinning Moors. The Mooresville natives, who also are neighbors, have been dancing with the club for all of its 34 years.

"You just meet some real nice people," said Oestreich. Oestreich met her husband of eight years, Darold, through square dancing.

Untener got a job offer through a square dancing contact. "You just never know who you might be dancing with," he said.

On a recent Saturday evening, a couple in silk jackets slipped through the back door of the recreation center. A petticoat bounced beneath the woman's jacket with each step.

The attire for the dance is traditional. The men wear a Western-style shirt with a bolo or bandana instead of a tie. The women wear blouses and skirts - petticoat with pettipants or prairie skirts.

Many of the couples are in matched sets.

Inside the recreation center, Don Hichman of Gastonia, Spinners cuer of 25 years, was calling the round dance at the other end of the room.

In round dance, a person who calls out pre-choreographed sequences of dance figures is called a cuer. A caller is responsible for calling out instructions, sometimes in an unexpected order, to the dancers in line dance, square dance or contra dance.

The evening's guests included couples from the clubs Emerald Squares of Hiddenite and the Lincoln Squares of Lincolnton.

The Spinners are part of a larger group: the Metrolina Dance Association. There are 35 clubs in the area. The Mooresville club has 44 members.

Frank Holland follows Hichman onto the platform to call the first square dance.

The dances alternate between round, square and line throughout the night.

Holland has been calling for 28 years. He moved to Mooresville from Gastonia in 2000 for the square dancing. "I was putting thousands of miles on my car driving to square dances, so I decided to move here."

Eight couples form two squares on the floor and start with a do-si-do, followed by a twirl with petticoats spinning. In the do-si-do, dancers advance and pass right shoulders. Without turning, each dancer moves to the right, passing in back of the other dancer. Then, moving backwards, they pass left shoulders, returning to the starting position.

"All the calls have names. It's a verbal shorthand," said Holland, "and it's worldwide."

Along with the hugs, there are "angels": club members who help new square dancers learn the steps.

"Anywhere you go in the world you can square dance," said Untener. "You have instant friends."