- Associated Press - Thursday, August 27, 2015

SEYMOUR, Ind. (AP) - A Seymour couple already have visited all 50 states once.

Dave and Linda Isom are now halfway through doing that for the second time.

It’s all because of their involvement in square dancing.

A few years ago, the Isoms, who are members of Seymour-based Star Promenaders, were at the Indiana square dancing convention when they met a German couple traveling all over the United States.

The Isoms joined a traveling program, and it took them four years to make it through all 50 states.

“It was amazing because you go and see all of the other square dancers and meet them and see if their kind of dancing is different than ours, and it’s not,” Dave Isom said.

“There were little clubs and big clubs,” Linda Isom said. “Sometimes, we went to lessons. Sometimes, we went to workshops. What was really fun is when we got to stay with a square dancer because they told us unique things about their state.”

Linda Isom said they have made many friends during their tours of the states.

“Even if we go to a different place, we usually see somebody we’ve met before,” she said. “Many of the people are friends for life. Square dancing has been instrumental in our lives.”

She said they also meet an increasing number of people who are trying to visit all of the states.

“We would not be able to experience the other square dancers and travel to marvelous places without starting in our base club and backed by the dedicated dancers behind the scenes,” she said. “The group does a lot of giving to local charities in Seymour. Everyone adds a special touch.”

Active in community

Star Promenaders began 54 years ago. The club currently has 36 members, who live in Seymour, Brownstown, Austin, Scottsburg, North Vernon and Madison. They range in age from 16 to 80-plus.

The club focuses on modern western square dancing and conducts dances once or twice a month at Trinity United Methodist Church in Seymour. It also donates around $1,200 to food pantries in Jackson, Jennings, Jefferson and Scott counties each year, and members operate a booth at the Seymour Oktoberfest as a fundraiser.

On Sunday, Star Promenaders hosted its ninth annual Hog Roast Square Dance, which drew more than 100 dancers from Indianapolis to Louisville. The dance was at American Legion Post 89 in Seymour.

Julie Branham, who is president of the club along with her husband, Danny, said this dance is special because they get a national caller to lead the participants. This year, Pam Courts of Cincinnati was the caller for square dancers, and Bonnie Lawrence of Indianapolis was the cuer for round dances.

Courts led the square dancers, in groups of eight, through a variety of tips, which last about 10 minutes each. Branham said there are 69 basic and mainstream moves or calls, and some dances are called plus and have 30 additional calls.

Round dancing involves the cuer leading couples through tips at a slower pace while going in a circle.

During Star Promenaders’ regular dances, they do line dances in between square dance tips.

Those interested in joining the club are first required to take square dance lessons, which normally run once a week for 12 to 16 weeks.

“You need to do it really once a week to keep up on it,” Danny Branham said.

‘Friends from all over’

The Branhams, who live in Hayden, started square dancing when they were just out of high school. After they were married, they took western square dancing lessons. They got away from it a couple of times until picking it back up in 2002 and have stayed with it since.

“We said, ‘This is fun. We’re going to keep up with it,’” Julie Branham said. “Before we started dancing, our big Saturday night was to go to the grocery store and Walmart or go out to eat and go to Walmart.

We missed out on all of this fun.”

The couple have gone to conventions in several states, ranging from one- to three-night events.

“We do our vacations around where they do square dances now,” Julie Branham said. “We make friends from all over.”

Marvin and Linda Rumph of Reddington also have traveled all around to square dance, attending conventions in several states.

“We’ve just met so many nice people across this country. It’s unreal,” Marvin Rumph said. “It’s a great, fun time. There’s no end to the people you meet. That’s what makes it enjoyable.”

The Rumphs took lessons together in 1969.

“It’s easy to learn because you repeat it,” Linda Rumph said. “Every week, you learn these steps. Next week, you’ll do those, and they add more to it. Then the next week, you do those and add more to it. You keep repeating them over and over and over, and it just comes natural.”

‘It’s good exercise’

Their teacher taught Marvin Rumph how to be a caller, which involves leading couples through a tip and getting them matched back up at the end.

Since he had just learned how to square dance, Marvin Rumph said he was able to pick up calling.

“Memory on that will only go so far, so it becomes eyesight and knowing what to do next to get them where they need to be,” he said.

Marvin Rumph said there used to be clubs in Seymour, Brownstown and Batesville, and between square dancing, round dancing and clogging, the couple were dancing six nights a week.

“As you get older, you like the round dancing better because it’s not as strenuous,” Linda Rumph said, smiling. “I loved clogging. Square dancing, really, you have to be pretty sharp, and you have to remember the calls, and you have to be physically fit.”

Linda Rumph said square dancing helps keep your weight down.

“It’s good exercise. It makes you feel better,” she said. “A lot of times, I think, ‘Oh, I don’t want to go tonight.’ But after I get my shower and get cleaned up and we get there, it’s fun.”

Julie Branham said square dancing burns 200 to 400 calories every 30 minutes, and it helps people maintain their physical fitness.

“In a 2½-hour dance, you can get 10,000 steps easily if you wear a pedometer,” she said. “… I got 30,000 steps in one weekend.”

Introductory class set

Dancing also is good for your mental health, Linda Isom said.

“Our mind is active because we have to think of the call,” she said. “We meet other people, we make mistakes, we have fun, we can laugh with each other, and we learn new things.”

Square dancing is economical, too. Branham said the club charges $8 per couple for regular dances, while Sunday’s event was $7.50 for a three-hour dance and a meal.

For those interested in trying square dancing, Star Promenaders will conduct an introductory class for the community from 7 to 9?p.m. Sept. 14 at the Seymour Community Center. That also will kick-start their lessons, which will continue every Monday through December.

The first two lessons are free and open to ages 8 and up. After that, the cost will be $20 per person for the entire course.

“We would just like everybody to come try it. It’s a lot of fun,” Julie Branham said. “Basically, you need to be able to walk, and you need to know your left from right. That’s pretty much it. Experienced dancers come get in the square with the new ones and help pull them through until they get to know what they are doing.”

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Source: The (Seymour) Tribune, http://bit.ly/1IhaJbK

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Information from: The (Seymour) Tribune, http://www.tribtown.com

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