Merrill Square ‘Em Up dance club to attend State Convention
TINA L. SCOTT
Merrill’s Square ‘Em Up dance club, unique in that it is made up almost entirely of youth, will attend the 63rd annual Wisconsin State Square and Round Dance Convention on Aug. 5, 6, and 7, 2022, at the Central Wisconsin Convention and Expo Center in Rothschild. The State Convention rotates between four areas of the state. This year the Central Northwest Area is the host and selected Rothschild for the location. Four years ago the Central Northwest Area hosted the convention in Marshfield.
With a Western theme, this year’s convention is subtitled “Back on the Dance Floor Again” and already has nearly 300 dancers already registered from Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa, South Dakota, Ohio, Michigan, Missouri, and New Hampshire, as well as Wisconsin. Attendance is anticipated to be 300-350. Of those registered dancers, 19 are youth, 16 of which are from Wisconsin and a large number of those are from Merrill. The recent National Convention in Indiana drew 2,041 attendees.
The committee with input into this year’s State Convention includes three Merrill-area residents: Jessie Gruetzmacher, Youth Chairman; Amanda Gruetzmacher, Secretary; and Tracy Nickel, Publicity Chairman/State Convention Website.
Jessie Gruetzmacher is also the primary contact for Merrill’s Square ‘Em Up club, while Nickel helps maintain the Square ‘Em Up Facebook page and is also the webmaster for a number of square dance websites.
Square ‘Em Up holds weekly dances on Friday nights at 7:00 p.m., usually at the Pine River School for Young Learners just west of Merrill on Hwy. 64. The Merrill club has the largest number of youth in a single club in the state of Wisconsin. There are 70 members of Merrill’s Square ‘Em Up club, comprised of 27 area youth who are age 18 and younger and 43 adults/young adults. Eleven members are already registered for the State Convention.
For those who would like to learn more about or get involved in circle or square dancing, visitors are welcome to come and watch the dancing at Square ‘Em Up on Friday nights.
The club also offers lessons for $6, and lessons run in 12-week sessions. The first couple of lessons are always held for free, so there is no obligation when trying it out, members say. There is nothing to lose for anyone who is interested.
Typically, a new session of 12 lessons starts in September. The first Friday will be lessons for the entire 2 1/2 hours, and then the next week will be 30 minutes of lessons along with a regular dance night where the group tries to incorporate the new dancers. And this alternates like this from week to week. Alternating helps keep the experienced dancers involved in the club and encourages the new dancers to become a part of the group, as well, members said. Many of the evenings/dances have themes to keep it fun for the youth.
How quickly the new members learn the calls dictates the group’s progress and the number of sessions of lessons held during the year, along with determining the group’s level of interest. Typically, there is a short break from lessons after the first 12-week session, during which time regular Friday night dances are held every Friday. Then lessons resume in January or February for another 12 weeks or so. If there is enough interest, another session can even be scheduled before summer.
This past summer, there was enough interest to do a crash course lesson session so the students could be ready to dance by convention in August.
For more information about Merrill’s Square ‘Em Up dance club, contact Jessie Gruetzmacher at 715.297.1838 or [email protected].