Intersection of Square Dancing and Banjo Playing

Murphy Henry

I thought I’d ease back into the blogging groove by trying to find some connection between my latest passion—square dancing (been at it a year now!)—and banjo playing.

We started a new square dancing class in Winchester last week (first two classes FREE! Y’all come!) and four of my students earned stars in their crowns by coming out for the event. Fiddle sister Sandy declined to get on the floor but gamely stayed for the whole two hours, watching us whirling and twirling. Thanks, Sandy. I felt supported.

Fiddle sister Robyn honored her promise of months ago (given under some duress while we were hiking) and came, thinking she too would sit out and talk to Sandy but I said, “No, no. That’s not what you promised. Saying you would come implied that you would come dance. If I tell you I’m going hiking with you that doesn’t mean I’m going to sit at the trailhead and watch you hike.” So, she danced. And had a good time. But she’s already told me she just can’t add one more activity to her already busy schedule. Maybe another time. Logan, beast that he is, did not come. But he was working his part-time job at Chick-Fil-A so he is somewhat forgiven. (Exciting news about Logan: he was nominated for Homecoming King at Winchester’s Handley High School! Go, Logan!)

Susan and Bill Morrison, banjo and bass students, also showed up and danced all night long. I was Bill’s “angel” [partner who already knows how to dance] and danced with him most of the night. Both he and Susan caught on quickly and they said they’d be back. They were surprised at how vigorous the dancing was and both thought it was good exercise.

And then there were Liesel (rhymes with “diesel” and “weasel” she says) and Lars (rhymes with “bars”), a twenty-something couple who showed up. I was in Chicos shopping one day and one of the sales clerks ask me how my square dancing was going. I said “Fine” and then Liesel, who was working the register, chimed in and said, “Square dancing? I’d love to learn to square dance!” (She had just gotten back from the big Clifftop Old-Time Music Festival and was smitten.) I immediately said, “There’s a class starting here in Winchester next month.” I gave her all the info and then said, “Give me your number and I’ll call and remind you.” Which I did. But she and her fiancé, Lars, had remembered all by themselves and were already planning to come. And they were SO enthusiastic. And adorable. And did I say young?

Then I found out that Lars is—can you believe it?—an old-time fiddle player. So, this Thursday he is going to bring his fiddle and I am going to bring my—guess what?—banjo and we are going to pick some in between dances. He told me he has a great love for “crooked” tunes (which usually means extra beats per measure when you’re not expecting them!). I told him I’d do my best to follow him. So we will see......

I realize this is a stretch, writing about square dancing and working banjo playing into the corners. But, hey, it’s a start!

5 thoughts on “Intersection of Square Dancing and Banjo Playing

  1. Kathy

    Todd and I thought about making it to the square dance but Zac has us running almost everyday with something and 99% of the time its with a banjo in toe 🙂

    Lessons, jam sessions, practices for the nursing home gigs, etc, etc…

  2. martha carlton

    You must be getting really good at square dancing, Murphy. Of course, you are an angel in many other ways besides square dancing.

  3. Travis Cook

    I was just thinking about checking in on your square dance life, glad to hear about it! Always enjoy about getting more pickers out on the floor – Keep at it and we can have a nice jam session one of these days at a big convention :).

    Several clubs here in Kentucky are unfortunately having trouble finding new students – our State Convention is this weekend, guess that’ll be the telling point regarding the health of the hobby around here. Here’s hoping for a full hall!

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