El Camino Reelers: Square Dancing in Silicon Valley for the LGBTQ Community and friends

Beginner Classes

ECR's "Orange" Blast Class for beginning dancers wrapped up on April 1. Free Tuesday evening practice session for students continue until April 11.

Instructor: Kurt Gollhardt.

The class includes four intensive Saturday afternoon classes to learn the basics, and eight Tuesday evening practice sessionss to get into the fun of dancing. Please plan to attend all four Saturday sessions.

Saturday sessions

  • February 18
  • March 4
  • March 18
  • April 1

Saturday classes are from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm at the Ventura Community Center, 3990 Ventura Ct in Palo Alto. (see map)

Light refreshments will be provided.

Tuesday sessions

  • February 21
  • February 28
  • March 7
  • March 14
  • March 21
  • March 28
  • April 4
  • April 11

Students enrolled in the Blast Class are strongly encouraged to come to El Camino Reelers on Tuesday nights to practice their new skills and meet our club members. Student-level dancing and review is from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm at St. Andrews United Methodist Church, 4111 Alma Street in Palo Alto, with our rotating staff of callers, with club-level dancing afterward.

In this class you will learn the basics of Modern Western Square Dancing. By the end of the class, you will be able to dance at the popular Social Square Dancing (SSD-50) level (see the FAQ below). Follow-up classes will be held later in the year.

Calls Taught So Far Click on a call name to see a description of the call, with diagrams, videos, and helpful hints. Kurt will update this list after each class.

Resources for Learning Square Dance Calls (Kurt's handout for the Spring 2022 Blast Class)

Lesson Plan for "SD 101: Modern Square Dance Fundamentals (SSD-50)" (3-day class, April 2022)

For more info on square dance calls, concepts, and customs, see the Information for Students page.

Blast Class FAQ

  1. What's a "blast" class?
    Typically, new dancers need at least 12 weeks of classes for 2 hours each week to learn the basics of square dancing. A "blast" class is an accelerated format where 12 weeks of teaching is compressed into four sessions of about 12 hours total.
  2. How hard is a blast class compared to a regular class?
    A blast class isn't any harder than a regular class, it's just more consolidated and held at a faster pace. Both classes teach the same calls in the same order.
  3. Blast class sounds pretty intense! Why would I take this instead of a regular class?
    Folks here in the Bay Area are typically pretty busy people! The biggest impediment to learning square dancing we hear most often is that the time committment (12 weeks, 2 hours a week) is too much for people to spend. A blast class happens on a weekend, and is a more efficient use of time for many people. A blast class happens over a single weekend (Saturday and Sunday) or over consecutive Saturdays or Sundays. It's a more efficient use of time for many people, and it's a lot easier to plan in advance to spend a weekend learning something than for a 12 week class.
  4. What level will I dance when I finish the blast class?
    We've organized our Blast Classes into three levels, with the intention of offering each sequence twice a year.
    Level 1: SSD-50. This is also called "Social Square Dancing", and it's a halfway point to full Mainstream dancing. We will offer Blast Level 1 graduates at eight weeks of free SSD-50 dancing at one of our weekly club nights, to give them an opportunity to practice and refine their new skills. At IAGSDC Conventions, the large "fun" events (Bear Tip, Women's Tip, Fun Badge Tour, etc.) are all SSD level now.
    Level 2: Mainstream/GDP. Graduates at this level will dance at the Mainstream and GDP levels. Mainstream is the first of the internationally-recognized square dance levels and is the minimum level for full membership in El Camino Reelers. GDP stands for "General Dance Program", which includes several calls from Plus, and is a popular regional level.
    Level 3: Plus. this is the next internationally-recognized square dance level after Mainstream, and is the main dance level for many California clubs. Unless there are new Blast Class dancers present, ECR callers call Plus level or above.
  5. Will I be a member of El Camino Reelers when I finish the blast class?
    Yes, you will be a member of ECR (with full voting rights) when you have successfully completed the Level 1 Blast class. Member dues for 2023 are included in your class fee.
  6. Learn square dancing in such a short time?! That's a wacky idea! Where did you come up with this?
    We based our program on a similar program hosted by a much larger club, Chi-Town Squares, in Chicago. They came up with the concept of using blast classes to bring new dancers into their club.
  7. Who's teaching at this shindig?
    ECR club caller Kurt Gollhardt will be our blast class instructor. He will be assisted by experienced dancers, called "angels", who will pair up with students to help ensure a fun and successful blast class.
  8. I don't have someone to dance with!
    In LGBTQ square dancing, you don't need to bring a dance partner. Just bring yourself dressed in comfortable clothing, sensible walking shoes, and a smile. We'll pair you up with angels and other students so you'll get to dance with different folks in every tip! (A "tip" is a roughly 15 minute dance set.)
  9. But I want to dance with someone specific?!
    For purposes of learning, we strongly suggest that students pair up with an angel whenever possible. However, please let the instructor know if you really want to dance with the same person repeatedly. We'll do our best to accommodate your request.
  10. What about food?
    We will provide light snacks, water and soft drinks. After class, people often go out for dinner together.
  11. How should I dress?
    There's no dress code in LGBTQ square dancing. Instead, the key concept to focus on is "comfort". Dress in loose clothing that allows you to move around easily and comfortably. Wear sensible shoes that are comfortable for standing and walking for long periods. Some folks like to wear especially thick socks for dance classes, to cushion the feet. Jeans and t-shirts are just fine, as are sweats, skirts, shorts, and slacks. Please, no strong fragrances.
  12. What's with this color business?
    We sometimes have two sets of Blast Classes running at once. The students who attended one Blast Class series will be polishing their skills while our next Blass Class is just getting started. To minimize confusion, we've decided to adopt the terminology of some other clubs and refer to each group of students by a color. Our Fall 2022 class was our "Red" class, our Spring 2023 class will be our "Orange" class, and so on around the rainbow.