By Sophie Smith
Holt Journal staff writer
May I have this square dance?
The Grand Paraders, a square dancing club in Holt, meets to dance every Wednesday night September through May at the Holt High School 9th Grade Campus.
The club consists of 30 official members and is put on by the Community Education program through Holt Public Schools, said Alice Sklar, club president of five years.
Sklar presides over each weekly meeting accompanied by her husband, John Sklar. The group dances 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. and the cost for members is $4, and $5 for guests.
The club participants vary in age, from 16 to 93.
The Grand Paraders also hold dance lessons on Tuesday nights for those looking to learn the steps and who may be interested in joining the club. The lessons are once a week for 18 weeks.
“The lessons are really what keeps the club going and is what adds new members to our group,” said Alice Sklar. “We’re always looking for younger members and square dancing is such a fun exercise to do.”
Sklar said when people taking lessons decide they are confident in their dance skills, they can decide to become an official member. A $15 membership fee is required.
The club was started by its oldest member, 93-year-old Bud Judge and has been active for 40 years, according to member Rosemary Shellberg.
“Back before the club started up, singles didn’t have anywhere to go because everywhere they wanted to dance was for couples,” said Shellberg. “Bud decided to initially start up a singles club.”
Shellberg said the singles club had more than 100 members and gradually turned into a club for singles, doubles, anyone.
Member Ron Hamelink, a retired professor from Lyman Briggs College at Michigan State University, said he comes to dance with his wife almost every Wednesday with the Grand Paraders.
“What I really like about this specific club is we dance often,” said Hamelink. “It’s not every once in a while, we’re consistent.”
In addition to dancing, members John Sklar and Mark Doyle are callers and cuers.
“Basically, we direct the dancers with different moves and they do them,” said John Sklar. “It’s fun to tell people what to do.”
According to John Sklar, the caller is for square-dance and the cuer is for a dance called round dancing. Round dancing is just like ballroom dancing but with the steps directed at the dancers.
Some common moves for square dance include the ferris wheel, wheel and deal, swing through and the popular dosey doe, according to John Sklar.
“Dance is such a great exercise, both physically and mentally for all ages,” said Club Vice President of 12 years Gail Drake. “Having to always be on your toes and listening is fun and good for you.”
During summer, the Grand Paraders meet at Diamond Dale Community Park near Holt and dance outside when the weather permits.