Weight reduction is a common goal when making a New Year’s resolution. So did you know two hours of square dancing is comparable to 3.5 miles of walking, and it’s a low-impact and heart-healthy exercise? A bonus benefit is memory retention — exercise for the mind.
Cayucan David Nilmeier is on a quest to attract more participants to the Cayucos Square Dancers from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday evenings at Cayucos Elementary School cafeteria. As a
member of CALLERLAB, International Association of Square Dance Callers (www.callerlab.org), Nilmeier has received permission from the sanctioning group to modify the traditional requirements to belong to a square dancing group.
Men don’t have to wear Western shirts and boots, and the women need not dress in petticoat-bolstered skirts, but they can. The dance music is familiar pop music, including “Phantom of the Opera,” hits by Sheena Easton and Kenny Chesney, and the theme from the television show “The Lone Ranger.” And perhaps best of all, a yearlong commitment is welcomed but not required. Nilmeier guarantees to get newbies up to speed within a few lessons.
“I got involved kicking and screaming up in Sacramento in about 1984,” Nilmeier said. “A friend suggested it would reduce stress from my AT&T management job. You forget about everything else, because you have to pay attention to the calls.”
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He said square dancing dates to the Virginia reel, a folk dance enjoyed in the 1800s. In 1982, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed square dancing the American folk dance, and for years, Henry Ford funded it to be included in physical education at our nation’s
Nilmeier encourages new participants to drop in and try it. He teaches a 30-minute session and then the group dances.
A core group of 19 to 20 regulars have been meeting about three years.
He advertises at www.cayucosfun.info that ages 9 to 90 can participate. His dancers range in age from 40 to 85.
“You don’t have to come in couples. I teach everyone the men’s and women’s roles,” Nilmeier said. “I’d love more men to participate since we have mostly women in the group. There is no fee, but we do take up a collection and all the proceeds are donated to the Cayucos Education Foundation. Last year, we donated about $2,000.”
Nilmeier, newly elected president of the Cayucos Education Foundation, began visiting Cayucos when he was 4 years old. His grandmother sold him her home after his tour of duty with the Army, where he served in Iran and Vietnam. He has been writing songs since he was 12 and uses many of his works during the square dance sessions.