Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2019-09-18
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Chi-Town Squares marks 30 years with party, award ceremony
by Carrie Maxwell, Windy City Times
2018-05-30

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Chicago's LGBTQ square dancing club, Chi-Town Squares, recently celebrated its 30th anniversary with a party and pot-luck dinner, "Take Pride," May 12 at Ebenezer Lutheran Church in Andersonville.

The club began when Jerry Cohen and Ron Goodman joined forces in 1987 and put ads in the local LGBTQ newspapers to seek out more members. When the first class met in Sept. 1987 at Wellington Avenue Church on Wellington and Broadway there were about 30 people in attendance. Now the club calls Ebenezer Lutheran Church its home.

To solidify the club within the wider LGBTQ square dancing community, a delegation attended the International Association of Gay Square Dance Clubs 1988 convention, "Cross Trails." The association officially accepted Chi-Town Squares as members at that convention.

Longtime member Rick Simkin ( since 1991 ) noted that many people think square dancing clubs are for performance and competition, however, that is not the case with Chi-Town Squares.

"The group participates for the fun of dancing and the pleasure of each other's company," said Simkin. "A lot of enduring friendships have started on the dance floor and even some romantic relationships. I was looking for a community activity and Chi-Town Squares seemed just right because it was social and did not involve alcohol."

"It is a fun group of folks that enjoy socializing while dancing and laughing," said longtime member Rob Sierzega. "It is a casual setting and welcoming to everyone. I joined in the fall of 1993 with my ( now deceased ) partner, Larry Burke. We knew some people in the group, and were encouraged to try it out. We had a lot of fun right away and made a lot of new friends."

One of the features of square dancing is the live caller who tells the dancers what moves to make. Simkin explained that square dancing started as a folk activity with each caller using their own calls ( moves ) so it was not standardized. Chi-Town Squares hired a live caller its first year to teach the Basic through Plus calls. Since then Advance and Challenge levels have been added to the roster. These CALLERLAB-based classes have continued to this day.

"CALLERLAB is an international organization of square dance callers that was formed to standardize the calls and group them into standard 'levels' of learning," said Simkin. "Now a square dancer who knows, say, the 'Mainstream' level, can dance at any Mainstream dance anywhere in the world."

The club hosts a "No Experience Needed Dance Party" on the first Thursday of each month and weekly dances for people who have attended the intensive weekends ( blasts ) in March and September to learn the Mainstream level. In addition to these weekly dances focusing on specific levels of achievement, the club holds seven dances so the entire group can mix and mingle with each other. During the Columbus Day weekend in October, the club holds "The Great Chicago Crossfire" for members and former members who come in from all parts of the country to reconnect with their friends.

Each year Chi-Town Squares recognizes long-time members and gives out the Eric B. Calimag Yellow Rock Award ( since 1995 ) to one or more members who have shown outstanding service to the club. The genesis for this award began when Lin Jarvis gave the club a big rock painted yellow and mounted on a plaque to use as a way to honor someone.

"Eric Calimag was one recipient of the award," said Simkin. "He died during the year that he was the Yellow Rock's awardee. Chi-Town Squares left the rock with his family, got a new Yellow Rock, and re-named the award in Eric's memory."

The previous year's award winner( s ) choose( s ) the next year's recipients. This year's award was given to Joe Kerouac at the anniversary celebration.

Upon receiving the Yellow Rock award, Kerouac said "someone needs to break this to my husband ( who was at the celebration ) that this award will be going on our dining room table." This statement elicited a lot of laughs from the crowd.

Following the awards ceremony, Kerouac told Windy City Times that the award "was a great honor and recognition for the work I have done as a board member for the past ten years. I have been square dancing since 1968 so to get an award finally is wonderful. It has been great to be a member of this club. I have met some fantastic people who have become close friends."

New board member assignments were also announced at the anniversary celebration—Jeff Hutchins ( president ), Diva Mihelic ( vice president ), John Wood ( treasurer ), Bob Siegel ( secretary ) and Penny O'Reilly ( member-at-large ).

"It is overwhelming to be taking on this new role," said Hutchins. "It is good to see the veterans of the group who no longer dance come out for this celebration and I hope the club has 30 more years."

"I have made so many wonderful friends here," said Mihelic. "This club is the center of my life. I am eager to move the club forward in my new leadership role and I also just joined the education committee. I am excited to be a liaison between the board and that committee. It will be fun to learn how to run the club."

"I hope that square dancing grows as a hobby and the club has a better presence in the Chicago LGBTQ community," said outgoing President Jim Cosenza. "This is a really diverse community of people who come from all sorts of backgrounds. I have found that being in this club is an amazing way to make friends and connect with other members of the LGBTQ community outside of a bar setting."

"I especially encourage younger people to come check out the club," said Chi-Town Squares historian Phil Davis. "Anyone is welcome to come and dance and that includes our LGBTQ allies."

Membership is $50/year and dances are $8. Scholarships are available for those who cannot afford to pay. See www.chitownsquares.org/ for more information .


facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Porter among those striking a pose at 2019 Emmys 2019-09-23 - Pose's Billy Porter made history the evening of Sept. 22 when he became the first openly gay Black actor to win the Emmy ...


Gay News

Ooh La La Burlesque & Variety Show to benefit Center on Addison 2019-09-18 - Chicago, IL — We are thrilled to announce our upcoming fundraising event for Center on Addison, the social and residential center for LGBTQ ...


Gay News

Paula Basta talks LGBT elder issues, career, honors 2019-09-03 - Paula Basta has dedicated her more than four-decade career to advocating for the aging community in a variety of roles. Most recently, Gov. ...


Gay News

Gay Korean war era veteran honored by Chicago Cubs 2019-08-27 - Jim Darby, Korean War veteran and the founder of the Chicago chapter of the American Veterans for Equal Rights ( originally named Gay, ...


Gay News

'Out at Wrigley'set for Aug. 25 2019-08-22 - The 19th annual "Out at Wrigley" will take place Sunday, Aug. 25, at Wrigley Field. This year, the Cubs take on the Washington ...


Gay News

Chicago performers 'Dance for Life' in annual showcase 2019-08-21 - Patrons of the arts gathered Aug. 17 in the South Loop for the 28th Dance for Life benefit performance. Dancers from six different ...


Gay News

Illinois Gay Rodeo Association presents Rodeo Round Town 2019-08-20 - The Illinois Gay Rodeo Association presents Rodeo Round Town, a three-day series of events throughout Chicago, continuing the tradition of the annual Windy ...


Gay News

Rothaus, Swisher, Vincenz named to LGBTQ Journalists Hall of Fame 2019-08-14 - WASHINGTON, DC — Today, NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists announced that longtime Miami Herald reporter Steve Rothaus, Recode co-founder Kara Swisher and ...


Gay News

Equality Illinois to honor Foxx and Flores at Fahrenheit 2019-08-09 - CHICAGO, IL- Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx and Illinois Deputy Governor Sol Flores will be honored for their long-time dedication and leadership ...


Gay News

Mills, Logue among ACS honorees 2019-08-07 - Attorney and activist Alan Mills was among those honored July 24 at the 2019 Legal Legends Luncheon of the Chicago Lawyers Chapter of ...


 



Copyright © 2019 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.