SPRINGFIELD, Ore. - To an outsider, square dancing might look like a complicated mess of lefts and rights, turns and swirls, stepped-on feet and country music.
But when a person really knows the music, the rhythms and all the steps, that is when square dancing transforms into more than just a dance: it is a lifestyle.
Larry Lauderdale started dancing at Oregon State University. At first, it was a way out of a mechanical engineering class and a way to meet girls but square dancing slowly transformed into his passion.
After Lauderdale’s wife completed her lessons the pair took to the dance floor and joined the Wagon Wheelers in Corvallis, Ore.
Although Lauderdale’s wife has passed on, 63 years later he is still square dancing.
There are nine different square dancing clubs in the Eugene and Springfield area.
Each club takes their turn hosting dances at the Emerald Square & Round Dance Center in Springfield or other venues around Oregon.
Cuers like Roger Pultizer, Bob Ewing and Christine Corelli call out the moves guiding the dancers through each dance - although most of them have known the steps for decades.
Lauderdale, now 88, has witnessed square dancing decrease in popularity. Younger generations don’t have the time or the interest in taking classes to learn the steps in order to participate in the dances.
“When they think of classes, they think of work,” Lauderdale said. “But square dancing isn’t work, it’s fun.”
And that’s what every dancer that twirls around the Emerald dance center on Friday and Saturday night knows. Square dancing can put a smile on your face even when you are in the darkest of moods. The love these dancers feel for square dancing isn’t the type of love that will fleet away within a couple years; it’s the type that lasts a lifetime.