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Nothing square about this dancing

Norwalk Reflector Staff • Oct 29, 2015 at 12:52 PM

"Go back home and swing your own."

"Promenade her back home."

"Right. Left. Right twice. Turn right. Back up two."

Danny Beck's soft voice carried over the loudspeakers as he ran music over his turntable and talked the young people through both square dances and line dances at the fairgrounds Tuesday night.

"I just love to watch them do this," Beck said as he watched dozens of young people dancing at the Junior Fair Pavilion after the royalty contest. "The kids are my favorite they have so much fun."

Beck has almost 40 years experience teaching and calling dances. He said he played guitar in a band and in 1969 decided to switch to calling. "I just decided this was more fun," he said.

He now works about 180 dances a year in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio. He said about half of those dates are teaching sessions to get more people involved in line and square dancing.

Beck said he learned much of his craft from names that experienced square-dancers would recognize Harry and Vern Gordon. "I also studied a lot of books," he said. He said he made it a point to learn some old-fashioned dances along with newer versions.

Instead of updating with digital equipment, Beck hauls about 200 of his 400-plus 45s and his record player to dances. "Its easier for me," he said of his equipment. He said he still buys 45s to add to his collection, which he has been building for 38 years.

Beck, who farms his own land and works at Wellington Implements, said his hobby is relaxing for him. Putting on records, talking the dancers through their moves, singing along with the music it's just fun.

He teaches and calls for both Eastern and Western square dancing. Beck said Eastern square dancing is easier and that's where most people start. "If you've never done it, we'll do a quick teach," he said.

Once he puts on the music and starts talking to the crowd through his microphone, Beck gets results. The dancers Tuesday night tried moves, sometimes didn't make the right connections, responded to Beck's voice and laughed the night away.

Beck said he continually enjoys watching young people learn to square dance. "It's an American dance," he said. "Everybody can enjoy it."

Beck will call two more dances at the Huron County Fair. He'll be in the Heritage area both tonight and Saturday night.

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