Let’s get one thing straight: DMU computer technician Barry Peck emphatically did not want to learn how to square dance. Even though he writes and records music and was in a gospel singing group for 13 years, for him doing the do-sa-do was a big no, no, no.
Then Carla Peck, his wife and administrative secretary in administration and finance at DMU, pointed out that she’d followed him in his music career for 30 years, so he could darn well do a courtesy turn as her square-dance partner. The couple took a lesson and were instantly hooked, which doesn’t embarrass Barry in the least.
“I love the rhythm. It’s so precise,” he says. “You have to remember all the calls, so it’s a good memory thing. But no one gets upset if you make a mistake. You’re always laughing. It’s a cure for depression.”
“You feel such a bond with the people you’re dancing and intermingling with,” Carla adds. “It’s so social, and it’s great exercise.”
Since that first lesson nearly six years ago, the Pecks square-dance at least once a week with local clubs. They’ve attended state and national conventions; at one, they figured they danced a total of 17 hours over two days. They encourage others to try it and emphasize that the dance music is not all country. “Anyone can learn to square dance,” Carla notes.
Barry is now learning to be a caller, the person who calls out the movements during each dance. He even wrote a song about the activity, which he performed to resounding applause at a state convention “after-party”:
Now I never have quite figured out why the gals won’t swing with me,
I’ve only lost four partners and injured 23.
Now one I swung right out the door – those steps were just too close.
The others we’re still searching for; we’ve nailed signs to the post.
Well, allemande left the corner are the sweetest words of all
When you’re running ’round in circles and your square’s about to fall.
Now we all have our favorite calls, but to me the very best
Is the one that takes me home again: Thank God for the allemande left.
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