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Club keeps square dancing tradition alive

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Posted: Friday, January 21, 2011 12:00 pm

By Lauren Cabral

The Cove Herald

Though square dancing is not often associated with popular modern art forms, there is plenty of evidence that it is exactly that.

There are 16 square dancing associations in Texas, and Central Texas's Heart of Texas Square and Round Dance Association includes 11 clubs and 300 members.

What many Copperas Cove residents may not know is one of the oldest and most respected of those clubs is right in their own city.

The Double C's Square Dance Club has been in existence since 1971, making it the oldest in Coryell County, and it plans to stick around for a while.

"We're trying to keep it alive because it seems to be a part of our culture that we're losing because the younger kids are not doing it as much anymore," Deborah Decker, treasurer of the group, said. "It's just a good, wholesome activity."

The group was started by Ray Stewart and his wife, Catherine, when they returned from Holland in December 1971. The Stewarts had been stationed overseas thanks to the military, and they'd begun square dancing in Japan in the early 1960s.

"The Japanese did it purposefully to learn English," Ray noted. "They didn't have a whole lot to do or watch; therefore they got interested in American square dancing."

The sport was also wildly popular with Americans overseas, and the Stewarts ended up starting a club in Holland.

"That club's still dancing, by the way," Stewart said.

And so are the Double C's.

Today, the club has 25-30 steady members, and they are trying to spread their knowledge and love of square dancing by giving lessons, Decker said.

The group gives lessons at Grace United Methodist Church in Copperas Cove at 7 p.m. every Tuesday. It also teaches round dance, a mix of square and ballroom dance, every second and fourth Friday at VFW Post 8557 in Copperas Cove. There is no fee for the classes, just an optional $1 or $2 donation for equipment and records.

Decker said the group also participates in service drives, such as Toys for Tots, veterans' dinners and food drives. She encouraged the community to give square dancing a try, especially teenagers.

"There are scholarships for it," she said. "It's just a great place to make friends, and it's wonderful fellowship,"

Like Stewart, Decker and her husband, Ken, began dancing in Germany when they were stationed in Schweinfurt for Ken's Army career. They began a club and did demonstrations for Germans, and they even danced in a five-country, 24-hour tour.

"My interest was because we were away from home and it was a chance to meet other Americans," Decker said. "We took lessons, then we initiated the club, which still exists today. We must have had 50 couples in our first class."

She hopes the Double C's can reach that number as well, as does Stewart.

Pure atmosphere

He emphasized the pure atmosphere that comes with square dancing and the confident, secure people it attracts.

"You're not expected to be at a dance and use foul language or drink any whiskey or booze," he said. "[Square dancers] are pretty well oriented in knowing who they are and how they got here. And it's been pretty good for us."

Stewart confessed that since his wife passed away two years ago, he's stopped participating in many Double C's events. He will, however, be attending the Catherine Stewart Memorial Dance on Jan. 28 at the VFW, as will many square dancers in Central Texas.

"My wife knew more about the past and local square dancing in the area than just about anybody in Central Texas," he said.

Decker said the event is open to everyone, and that food, door prizes and dancing would be big parts of the celebration. She encouraged all to attend, and emphasized the importance of paying tribute to the Double C's founder's memory.

"She devoted her life to this," she said.

Contact Lauren Cabral at lcabral@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7476.

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