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Be there or be square dancing: WA Township continues the tradition | Photography

LLess than an hour northeast of Perth is Gidgegannup, a small township known for its scenic walking trails and agricultural fairs, as well as a vibrant square-dancing community that has endured for decades.

Despite the challenges of Covid-19 and declining membership numbers, the passionate members of the city’s square dancing club have kept the tradition alive and well.

“We love seeing people try their hand at square dancing,” says Ken Pike, the club’s caller.

“It doesn’t matter age, race, color, creed or religion…you’re all the same once you hit the square dance floor and we just want people to have fun.”

Sandy and Bruce take a break on the dance floor.

Pike resurrected the Gidgegannup Square Dance Club in 1985 after it closed in the late 70s. He did so after members of the local branch of the Country Women’s Association showed a keen interest in learning, and the club is still going strong 37 years later.

A square dance involves four couples (eight dancers) dancing together in a square formation. Rather than having to remember an entire routine, dancers simply learn specific moves that are shouted out by the “caller” in different variations.

Carol Parsons (in red striped skirt) and John Parsons (black hat) at the club's western party.
Carol Parsons (in red striped skirt) and John Parsons (black hat) at the club’s western party.
Friendship partner: Louis Coben.
Friendship partner: Louis Coben.

The Gidgegannup club organizes dances every fortnight, each with a different theme. The most recent had a Western theme that everyone happily dressed up for, wearing their best cowboy hats, boots and bandanas.

Rosemary Corbin, the club’s president, said there were around 60 people at the Western dance, many traveling from Perth.

“When we visit clubs in Perth and drive home, we get home earlier than when we have the dance in Gidgegannup because people don’t want to go home,” she laughed.

Club president Rosemary Corbin serves up a dancefloor snack.
Club president Rosemary Corbin serves up a dancefloor snack.

Carol and John Parsons first saw an advertisement for square dancing in the local paper in 1979. They went and tried it out with their two daughters and continue to do it fortnightly.

“It’s a second family,” said Carol Parsons. “We even have a couple who call us mum and dad because the lady – she’s the same age as our oldest daughter.”

For the couple, now both in their 80s, square dancing not only offers them a fun social activity, but also real health benefits for staying active.