Square dancing provides lifetime of fun and friends for Shuswap couple

BC Festival 2019 brings hundreds of dancers to Salmon Arm

It was 1960. Don Krebs was a self-described teenage punk in a red leather jacket, “playing the role.” 

He had stumbled into square dancing when he, his brother and a friend had gone to pick up his friend’s sister from a teenage square dance club. Two “good-looking girls” asked him and his brother to dance. He was immediately smitten – with square dancing, going to dances whenever he could.

Marlene Krebs explains that the Alberta government of the day, realizing there weren’t many activities in the winter other than ones like curling and hockey, brought up square dance callers from the U.S. to teach square dancing and callers.

“When we got into square dancing, it was nothing to have 25 squares – that’s eight people in a square. Now you’re lucky if a big dance gets that many people. It shows how much excitement it brought to those small communities,” she says.

Read more: Hundreds of square dancers to do-si-do to Shuswap

Read more: Okanagan dancers kick up heels for spring

That kind of excitement will be returning to Salmon Arm this week and weekend. It’s BC Festival 2019, where about 500 dancers from across Canada as well as Washington state, Idaho and Ohio will be promenading to Salmon Arm from July 10 to 14.

While most will likely be square dancers, there will also be round, clog, contra and line dancing. And it’s not just for polished dancers. Spectators are free throughout and there are free introductory workshops on Friday and Saturday mornings, July 12 and 13. Along with the Shaw Centre, other ‘dance halls’ will include Okanagan College, the curling club and the recreation centre.

To kick things off, a Trail in Dance, when all the dancers assemble, will take place July 10 from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Shaw Centre. Other special events include: “It’s an Elvis Thing” on July 11 from 2:30 to 4 p.m.; opening ceremony July 11 at 6 p.m. including a lively display by a Métis dance group; and a bringing together of everyone in one dance hall on Saturday, July 13 from 9 to 10 p.m. A full schedule is available online at www.bcfestival2019.com.

Read more: 2013 – Dancing into a new season

Read more: Dancing birds caught on camera

But back to Don and Marlene, who are from Salmon Arm and will be in attendance. Don will be MCing on Wednesday night, with a singing call at the end.

In 1960 Don was a member of the Whirlateens, a teen club on the north side of Edmonton. Marlene was with the Teeneighters, a south Edmonton club. Don knew Marlene’s dad, Bill Coulter, who was a caller, so he had a bit of an in. Don began calling, and the first big dance he called for was in Penticton at the Peach Festival in 1963, with 5,000 dancers outdoors.

“I was never so nervous in my life,” he recalls.

Marlene was his girlfriend by then and she was at the bottom of the stage, offering moral and practical support if he had any trouble with his calls. She laughs and says when she was in the washroom, some other girls were asking each other if they’d seen that handsome young caller.

Marlene replied: “Yes, that’s my boyfriend.”

Read more: In photos – Shuswap stars shine on the dance floor

Read more: Dancing with Shuswap Stars attracts Rust Valley Restorers

Now having square-danced for 59 years together, they still enthuse about it.

“Marlene and I have tried curling, dance club, everything in our lifetime, but the most exciting and fun thing is square dancing. You know why?,” Don asks.

The number one reason, he says, is no one drinks. You can’t drink alcohol and square dance. Also, you can dance with other men and women and there’s no jealousy. It’s part of the dance. And you meet so many people.

Marlene points out it’s a good form of exercise and one you do while interacting with people.

“They can come as couples and as singles, and be asked to dance even as a single.”

It’s great for families, for all ages and you can do it in other parts of the world. People in Japan square dance, adds Don, but the calls are said in English.

Don is a member of a shrinking group who still likes to call using 45 records rather than a computer. He has about 800 songs he uses. And as technology is changing, so is some of the music.

“Some of the guys are even using rap music. One guy… uses a lot of classical,” he says.

To see Don and Marlene and hundreds of other dance enthusiasts, visit BC Festival 2019.


@SalmonArm
marthawickett@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Salmon Arm’s Don and Marlene Krebs first began square-dancing together in 1960. They’ll be among the 500 or so dancers who will be joining the festivities in Salmon Arm at BC Festival 2019 of the BC Square & Round Dance Federation from Wednesday night, July 10 through Saturday, July 13. (Martha Wickett/Observer)

Just Posted

Son of Stomp planned for July in Silver Creek

Previously the event was held in Sicamous for 30 years

Word on the street: How do you spend a snow day?

When snow cancels school and your boss tells you to stay home,… Continue reading

Sports Shorts

Keep up to date with local sporting events and news segments Curling… Continue reading

Photo reminds Salmon Arm resident of connection to former drama teacher Justin Trudeau

Prime minister remembered as being as a funny, larger-than-life person

Dining moose a welcome distraction at Salmon Arm campus

Pair feast on willows, unperturbed by onlookers at Okanagan College

Disrespectful that Horgan won’t meet during northern B.C. tour: hereditary chief

Na’moks said he was frustrated Horgan didn’t meet with the chiefs

Update: Highway reopens after crash west of Revelstoke

Drive BC also reported a vehicle incident 10 km east of Golden.

Canucks extend home win streak to 8 with 4-1 triumph over Sharks

Victory lifts Vancouver into top spot in NHL’s Pacific Division

BC Green Party leader visits northern B.C. pipeline protest site

Adam Olsen calls for better relationship between Canada, British Columbia and First Nations

Priest Camp near Summerland was created in 1845

Agreement formed between Grand Chief Nicola (1793-1859) and Father Giovanni Nobili (1812-1856)

‘Extensive’ work planned at Big Bar landslide ahead of salmon, steelhead migration

Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan visited the site of the slide from June

B.C. society calls out conservation officer after dropping off bear cub covered in ice

Ice can be seen in video matted into emaciated bear cub’s fur

Most Read