Launceston Square Dancing Club celebrates its 66th birthday

There was not a hay bale in sight at Launceston Square Dancing Club’s 66th birthday celebration on Saturday.

The club holds the record for the longest continual square dancing club in the southern hemisphere.

Before entering the hall, club committee member Nelson Cooper said there would be no calf high cowboy boots or straw between teeth either.

“Those days are long gone,” Mr Cooper said.

Covers of Bruno Mars and Adele songs featured in their celebratory square dancing song list.

“Most people come to see what modern square dancing is about and then coerce their friends and family into joining,” he said.

“Square dancing is one of the best forms of exercise, it works your arms , legs, lungs and brain. It’s good for the mind and body.”

Women in petticoats twirl around as the partners copy the movements announced by a caller.

The club has more than 60 members, with around 12 newcomers currently learning to square dance, he said.

When Mr Cooper first started dancing about five years ago, there were 50 members.

Club president Graeme Barwick, who is also a life member, said membership was “booming” after a lull about 10 years ago.

He has been in the club since 1994, but first discovered the dance in the late 1950s.

“I think we’ve got as few younger people, which makes a difference.”

Many other clubs struggled for callers, but the Launceston club had five, Mr Barwick said.

The club welcomed beginners to their Wednesday night dance sessions between 7pm and 8pm at Heather Hall in Newstead.