In the Spring of 2021, two western square dance clubs which shared a dancing venue, the Gahanna Community Congregational Church, decided to merge. Orbiting Squares Western Square Dance Club and Bucks and Does Singles Western Square Dance Club joined together as Bucks and Does/Orbiting Squares Western Square Dance Club. The freshly minted club held its first dance on July 23, 2021. While the history of Bucks and Does/Orbiting Squares is just beginning, the two predecessor clubs were long-time active participants in the central Ohio square dance community. As we look forward to the future, we continue to celebrate the histories of the two clubs.
The Story of Orbiting Squares Western Square Dance Club
The Orbiting Squares began in 1962 as an activity offered to employees of North American Aviation, by a caller named Jack Barton. The first group of students had only 9-10 lessons when Jack was transferred back to California. They continued to learn on their own, dancing frequently at the various clubs in the city, and they rapidly became very polished dancers. The first Presidents for Orbiting Squares were Woody and Helen Bodkins, followed by Walt and Virginia Brenneman. When Jack transferred to California, the club invited Bob Doran to become the club caller. He continued until 1973, then was succeeded by Jerry Metz, who was the club caller until 1985. Bob Jones was club caller from 1985 until 1994, and Dave Stuthard was club caller from 1994 to 2007. At that time the Orbiting Squares board decided not to have a club caller, and began to contract with many different callers. Since the early 1970’s the club has also offered round dancing at its dances; contracting with a number of different round dance leaders to cue the rounds at its dances.
Over the years Orbiting Squares has begun and continued many family-type traditions. The Hobo Dance was started in the mid-60’s as a Fall Outdoor activity – originally shared by a club in Newark (the Mound City Twirlers); then became an annual “Hobo Stew” outdoor picnic. This has evolved into the annual Chuck Wagon Dance in the fall.
In 1967 a group of couples began to caravan across Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and into Missouri – down to central Missouri to the Kirkwood Lodge, Osage Beach, at the Lake of the Ozarks, for a week of square dancing, round dancing, and water-skiing; several of the club members towed boats. This began the association with national caller Marshall Flippo from Abilene, TX, who continued to call a special annual dance for the Orbiting Squares in March until 1999. From that annual event evolved the club’s Spring Special.
Many other activities have evolved over the years; including the New Year’s Dinner and Dance. This tradition started with a Hilliard Club, the Northwest Twirlers. When they stopped offering the New Year’s dance in 1972; Orbiting Squares took it over. At that time, and for several years, Orbiting Squares was the only club in the city offering a New Year’s Eve dance.
Orbiting Squares initially was a couples club, but evolved into a club that welcomed both couples and solo dancers. They were a Club Member of Single Square Dancers USA from 2006 to 2021.
The Story of Bucks and Does Singles Western Square Dance Club
1975 welcomed a new “baby”
into the square dancing world in Central Ohio. It was named the Bucks & Does Singles Western Square Dance Club. At that time, there were 30+ clubs for couples in Central Ohio but none for single dancers, and singles often were not welcome to attend couples clubs unless they came with a partner. The Central Ohio Corporation of Dance Clubs recognized the need and mandated that a “singles only” western square dance club be established. Harfey & Betty Lightfoot volunteered to organize a singles club and solicited the help of Dick & Pat Van Meter. Dick Loos, a new caller in the area, joined forces with the Lightfoots and the Van Meters in establishing Bucks and Does Singles. Dick Loos was aided by his wife, Diana. The founders quickly integrated singles into the early planning and decision making that established much of the philosophy of the club. A group of three couples and five singles choose the club name, club schedule and callers for individual dances for the first year. When the club held its first membership vote, one of the singles, Lois (Slaughter) Krull (who is a current club member) was nominated and elected the first President of Bucks & Does Singles. Single dancers now had a club where they were encouraged to dance as singles. Bucks & Does had over 100 class members the first season. The new club chose as its core mission, to provide an environment where single people could come to learn to dance and then attend regular club dances without a partner.
Club caller Dick Loos and his wife Diana were an integral part of club life at Bucks & Does for 25 years. Sadly, they have both passed away. But their legacy lives on.
One of Bucks & Does’ oldest traditions predated the existence of the club. The Dudes & Dolls club folded after holding its 35th Yellow Rock Dance in 2008, but gave its blessing for Bucks & Does to take over sponsoring this annual dance. In 2009 Bucks & Does held the 36th Yellow Rock, and has continued to hold this special dance each year. Bucks & Does really knew how to celebrate holidays. One year they successfully pulled off a French-themed Valentine Dinner Dance with a multi-course table-waited dinner. The hall was ready for dancing. It took months of development & lots of helpers but over 70 dancers loved it. At the Halloween dances many dancers donned unique costumes. Prizes were awarded and the dancers had lots of fun. For years dancers put on muumuus, flowered shirts and grass skirts for the annual Hawaiian Luau dances.
Bucks & Does was always in support of causes. In the early days the club sponsored annual all-nighter “Eyepatcher Dances” to benefit the Ohio Society to Prevent Blindness. For seventeen years prior to the club relocating from the First Congregational Church in 2012, Bucks & Does held annual benefit dances each November for Bethlehem on Broad Street, a Christmas event sponsored by a consortium of churches and other organizations to provide dinner and other help for needy people at Christmas. Between 2008 and 2011, the club sponsored two local charity dances, with Keith Rippeto calling, and took two busloads of dancers to dances in Lubeck, WV to help Keith and Karen Rippeto raise money for Relay for Life.
As a singles club, Bucks & Does was affiliated with Tri-State Singles (Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana) for many years, and its members had a lot of fun hosting and attending dances at other singles clubs, often traveling to these clubs with dancers crowded into Dick Loos’ motor home. In 2005 Bucks & Does hosted the annual Dance-A-Rama Labor Day weekend festival for Single Square Dancers USA, and became affiliated with this organization as a member club. Bucks & Does sponsored busloads of dancers to Dance-a-Rama festivals in 2006, 2009 and 2010. As time went on Bucks & Does remained a singles club but it also welcomed couples into its membership.
45 years later, Bucks & Does was still a dynamic and active club.
The history of Bucks and Does/Orbiting Western Square Dance Club is just beginning, but based on the history of its predecessor clubs, the combined club can look forward to many years of friendship and joyful dancing.