- Associated Press - Sunday, August 31, 2014

PARK CITY, Ky. (AP) - Larry Davenport was 15 when he learned how to square dance in 1972.

“I had an older sister who was married and she and her husband talked my mother into doing it. My mother made myself and my two younger brothers go take lessons when she did,” he said. “It was a family affair.”

Davenport, of Munfordville, objected to the idea at first, but then it kind of grew on him. “I danced for several years back then and then got away from it,” he said.

When he met the girl, Felicia, who would later become his wife in 1990, he began dancing again. “Neither one of us smoke or drink, so going to the bar and places like that . we really didn’t enjoy it,” he said. “Square dancing is a clean, family environment.”

Davenport and his wife have been dancing ever since. He has been calling square dances for 22 years.

When he’s not teaching square dancing or calling a square dance, he works as a rural route mail carrier in Hardyville.

He began calling when his wife graduated from her square dance class.

“The students who were graduating wanted to play a practical joke on the caller, so they dressed him as a woman to dance the woman’s part,” he said. “They knew that I sang, so they talked me into memorizing the singing call and getting up there so they could make him dance. The bug bit me then and I’ve been trying it every since.”

There are two types of square dancing - Appalachian and modern western. Davenport teaches and calls the modern western-style of square dancing.

“The Appalachian style is pretty much, if you know how to line dance, you learn a series of steps. You will dance those steps over and over in a song,” he said.

Modern western square dancing is a style that consists of 66 mainstream dance steps.

“You learn those (steps) and the caller can put them together any way he wants to,” Davenport said. “The advantage of learning western square dance is, once you’ve learned it, you can go dance anywhere because it’s standardized. It is called the same way. It is taught the same way. It is the same steps for each call. That is worldwide. It doesn’t matter where you go in the world, it is taught and called in English. So, you can dance anywhere.”

Davenport attends square dance festivals. There are two square dance associations that host festivals - the Kentucky Square Dance Association and the Kentucky Federation of Square Dancers.

There is also a national square dance association, which hosts festivals in various states and countries.

Davenport attended a national square dance festival in San Antonio a few years ago.

“I got a chance to call down there,” he said.

The gentleman who preceded him in calling a square dance was from Japan and spoke no English. The man who called a square dance after Davenport was from Germany and also didn’t speak English, yet both men could call square dances in English because modern western square dance is taught the same worldwide.

The two types of music Davenport likes to call square dances to are gospel and country. He also enjoys calling a patter, which is done to fiddle music and is where the caller gets to make up the calls as he goes.

A lot of square dance callers have the music they like to call to recorded in MP3 format, but Davenport says he is “old school” and prefers to play 45 rpm records when calling square dances.

“They still make 45s believe it or not,” he said. Square dance calling can be a difficult thing to do. “I guess if you’ve got an analytical mind or a mathematical mind, it’s not as hard,” he said. “If you struggled with those types of subjects when you were in school, you will struggle in calling a square dance.”

Each call has a specific starting and ending location. When Davenport is calling a square dance he has to remember who is dancing with who, so that when he finishes, the dancers end up where they started.

The one thing Davenport likes best about square dancing is all the friends he makes.

“We’re one big happy family pretty much,” he said.

Davenport teaches square dance lessons at the Park City Lions Club every Tuesday night and on the fourth Saturday of the month he calls dances at the lions club.


Information from: Glasgow Daily Times, https://www.glasgowdailytimes.com



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