Thomas Hampton Reviews SQUARE DANCE with Triple Chicken Foot and Cory Marie

Hearing the term “square dance” can conjure some rather strange memories, or none at all.  A good many of you may remember being forced to square dance in school during PE.  The gym teacher would throw a record on one of those all in one “box” record players/ speakers.  There would be bowing.  Promenading.  Do si doing.  And so on.

Don’t let your childhood traumas keep you from enjoying social dancing as an adult.  Squares, contra dances, and other social dances are alive and well.  While you may assume that the majority of active dancers are “up there” in age (you would be right,) there has been a resurgence in both old time music and square dancing among a younger crowd.

Ben Guzman, a fiddler in Triple Chicken Foot, saw the burgeoning square scene in Portland first hand, before he moved back to LA.  “You will see all kinds; punks, mustachioed hipsters, kids, older people, getting sweaty together and having a great time.”

Exactly what kind of a good time is it?  The music played, “old time music,” usually consists of several string instruments- Triple Chicken Foot features a regular line up that includes a fiddle, guitar, and banjo.  The music is fun and fast- because of the dancing the tunes are all on an 8 count, which allows the band the opportunity to have a lot of fun working a groove while they get their kicks watching the dancers move about in front of them.

And everybody moves!  Even if you show up to a dance with no knowledge of square dance (or just that faded memory from way back when,) your caller is there to teach you and tell you what to do.  Cory Marie Podielski often calls with “the Foot,” and takes the time to teach everyone each dance before it gets started.  And during the dance, she is constantly calling out the moves you are about to make, so you are never confused on the dance floor.

So what is the big deal about square dance?  Well, it seems to be one of the best “audience participation” events around.  So many performance artists will have a pr blurb like, “…her performance blurs the line between the audience and performer…”  but it seems they rarely live up to that statement.  In contrast, a square dance “audience” IS a performer.  Triple Chicken Foot and Cory Marie are there to get you to dance.  There is no audience, only participants.

Even Charon Nogues, the HM157 hostess, made mention of that.  When asked how The Foot and Cory Marie were received in comparison to other “bands” that have played the venue, she replied, “Well, usually there is a lot of people standing around with their arms like this,” as she demonstrated a bored hipster staring in to space with arms crossed firmly across her chest.

So many artists talk about wanting to foment change in society.  But how many actually follow through with that claim within the confines of the performance?  Does seeing a dance piece about the isolationism of the modern city actually get you to bake cupcakes for your neighbor?  I’ll guess, “No.”  But attending a square dance actually builds community.

You spend the entire evening touching and making eye contact with friends, lovers, acquaintances, and even- gasp- strangers.  Certain dances make you swap partners and you often wind up dancing with everyone in your square.  You leave feeling more connected to your community.  You might have even gotten that cute guy’s phone number.

In fact, square dancing was originally a very formalized courtship routine.  The dances allowed for the community to socialize the young’uns with the opposite sex, and allow for chaperoned interactions for the older adolescents.  Square dances are such a “meat market” that I have heard stories of a fiddler who was sick and tired of the caller getting all of the numbers and “action”- so he started to call and fiddle at the same time.

With the “recessionary lifestyles” many of us are living, plenty of social action is putting community first.  You have your timebanks springing up around the city, and the Bicycle Kitchen (which started at the Eco Village) wants you to build a bike AND RIDE IT!  Homebrew is all the rage- and now Old Time Music and Square Dancing.  Who says you cannot have fun on the cheap- and make some friends while you are at it?  Not Thomas Hampton.

Thematic content includes:  Live Music, Dance/ Movement

Triple Chicken Foot and Cory Marie perform next at…
WIGOUT at Bordello
Th 2/4 9:30 (doors at 9pm, square dance 9:30 to 10:45, Wigout cabaret follows
$8 with Wig $10 without
MAP of Bordello
Visit Triple Chicken Foot’s Website
More local “old time music” info

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