The Wentzville Community Club and the Crossroads Arts Council will sponsoring its first 5th Saturday dance on June 30 at the Community Club building, 500 West Main Street.
The kickoff event will feature Contra Dances. First time dancers can receive instruction at 6:30 p.m., with the dance running from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
The event was organized by Cynthia Welch, who was involved with Contra dancing in southern Illinois for 30 years. “I loved square/round/international group dancing as a child, and I discovered contra in college,” Welch told 70 West Sentinel.
“Contra is not stuffy or boring, it does not require special clothes or shoes, or even partners,” Welch said. “Contra is a casual style of dance that involves two long lines of dancers facing each other. A caller gives instructions before each dance. Reels and jigs are popular. There is a progression so each person dances with other dancers while alternately returning to his or her own partner in between.”
After moving to Wentzville several years ago, Welch found very few opportunities to participate in Contra dancing. Recently, she joined the Crossroads Arts Council, a local nonprofit that not only organizes and promotes art shows and classes, but also seeks to support performing arts in the Wentzville area. The CAC holds many of its events at the Wentzville Community Club.
Diane Ransom, CAC president, said that Welch’s jaw dropped the first time she saw the size of the room and the wooden floors at the Community Club. “Practically her first words to me were, ‘What a great place to have a contra dance!'”
Welch consulted with dance group leaders in St. Louis and Cape Girardeau to get tips on starting a Contra dance event.
Donations for admission will be $7 for adults, and $3 for kids 8 to 17. Kids under 8 are free. The maximum donation for any family is $20.
“This isn’t a ‘for-profit’ venture but rather ‘for-people.’ No individual will make a profit on these events. Our expenses will be covered with minimal door fees. Profits will be used by the Crossroads Arts Council for continued support of artists and the arts in Wentzville,” Welch said.
Why bring dance to Wentzville?
“In short, dancing builds community,” Welch said. “Community-style dance in general is not just fun and easy exercise. Perhaps its greatest value is how it brings a variety of people together in a family-friendly and welcoming atmosphere. Experienced dancers teach newcomers.”
“Community dances are inclusive and uplifting not just for each dancer but for the group as a whole,” Welch said. “Relationships built through dancing can become forces collaborating for the good of the community.”
That same “good of the community” has been the mission of the Wentzville Community Club for 85 years. Through the decades, the volunteers of the Community Club have organized countless community celebrations and events. But the last time the Community Club hosted a dance was at its 75th anniversary celebration, ten years ago. On June 30, the hall will once again fill with fiddle music, good times, and laughter.
The next 5th Saturday Dance has already been set for September 29.