On March 16, 2013, square dancers from around the region will return to La Bahia Turnverein Hall in Washington County for the Bluebonnet Festival Square Dance. For many years, the Bryan-College Station Circle Squares Dance Club sponsored this annual dance. This year, instead, square dance callers Jerry Jestin and Matt Barnes will host the dance held at the historic hall just north of Round Top, Texas. The dinner and dance event draws participants from regional square dance clubs as well as the state’s winter Texan population.
At the Bluebonnet Festival, internationally known caller Jestin will take turns with popular regional caller Barnes to guide dancers through their moves and keep them smiling. Square dancing relies on such “callers” to instruct dancers which movements to make as they dance. Performed in sets of four facing couples, square dancing stems from early immigrant folk dance roots, mixing styles from many countries into an American tradition. Today, the tradition continues worldwide with enthusiasts who encompass a wide range of geographic locations and ages.
Jestin calls regularly in Yuma, Arizona, as well as traveling internationally. He has recorded for several square dance record labels since his first recording of “Come Monday” for Circle D Records. Jestin is known for his creative choreography and high energy. His 2013 calendar takes him from Arizona to Texas to Colorado to Canada to Scandinavia and back.
Barnes calls for Circle Squares Dance Club in Bryan-College Station, the teen club Dancin' Dudes & Dolls in the Hempstead area, and the Grand Squares of Tomball as well as at additional dances. Barnes is one of today’s moving forces in bringing teenagers into the activity of square dancing. His calling features varied music choices mixed with both traditional and innovative dancer moves.
Regional associations provide information about ongoing dances and lessons. Nearby associations of square dance groups include the Sam Houston Square and Round Dance Association that covers the Brazos Valley, the Austin Square and Round Dance Association covering the Austin area, and the Houston Square and Round Dance Council in the Houston area. To learn more about square dancing, see http://www.squaredancetx.com/Related_Sites.html.
La Bahia Turnverein Hall, which will serve as the location for the Bluebonnet Festival dinner and dance as it has every year for decades, is a classic Texas dance hall built in the late 1800s. Although renovated and expanded over the years, parts of the original construction can be seen throughout the structure. The old wooden floor, worn smooth by generations of dancing feet, provides a great surface for square and round dancing. Located in the heart of an antiques stronghold, the La Bahia Turnverein Hall hosts many special events and antiques fairs throughout each year. But at least one weekend a year it vibrates to the calls, cues, laughter, and footsteps of dancers.