Square-Zilla's Biography Page
I was raised around square dancing and square dance clubs. My parents have been square dancing as long as I can remember, and were members of the Rose City Squares for many years, until the club merged with the Barn Owls and became River City Dancers. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of square dance club outings and camp-outs with my parents and their square dance club. One especially fond memory is the barn at Silver Creek Falls, Oregon, where the Rose City Squares had an annual weekend camping trip. Still, as a youth I never developed an interest in learning to square dance.
In June of 1992 my marriage of 9+ years to my first wife fell victim to divorce. I found myself alone, and without any social outlets. One day at work, I overheard two co-workers having a discussion about square dancing. Being the child of square dancing parents, I couldn't keep from becoming involved in the conversation. The conversation quickly turned into an invitation for me to come to square dance class. I declined at first, being newly divorced and thinking about the time it would take me away from my children, but my new friend was very persistent, and returned to invite me again every time there was a new class starting up. After a year and a half of his persistence, I finally caved in. I made arrangements with my mother to look after my kids on class nights, and I joined the class. Square dance class rapidly became the social outlet I needed, and after just a few weeks, I found myself always looking forward to the next class.
I learned Mainstream square dancing from caller Steve Porter, at
the Spares & Pairs square dance club in Portland, Oregon. Steve
is the best teacher I know, and I enjoyed the classes so thoroughly
that I went on to take round dance lessons from Steve's wife, cuer
Patty Porter. Steve is a kind and friendly man, and I found he had
a familiar sense of humor that I really enjoyed. It didn't take long
for us to become good friends. I got in the habit of staying around
after dances and helping him pack and haul out his gear, and we would
shoot the breeze for a while before leaving to go home. During one
of those conversations I remember commenting to Steve
"You know, that calling stuff looks like it might be fun." That
was all it took. Steve took me under his wing and started coaxing
me to give calling a try. Round dance class graduation night,
after the graduation was over, I was hanging around and
helping clean up and haul the gear out, as had become customary.
Steve was carrying his record case towards the door, when he
stopped, set down his case, opened it, fished out two records, and
handed them to me.
From that night on, at each dance I attended, Steve asked if I was willing to call a tip. For the first several months my answer was a resounding "No".
Shortly after the `94 National Convention was held in Portland, I attended a Spares & Pairs dance. I had just broken up with a girl I had been dating, and was rather dejected about being at the dance alone, even though it was a singles club. Steve didn't fail to ask the usual question, would I be willing to call a tip? I thought "What else have I got to lose?". So I surprised him (and myself) by answering "Yes". He hauled me up on stage before I could change my mind, and I called my first tip. It went well, for a first tip. My club friends smiled and encouraged me. I was hooked.
For the next year I was an assistant teacher in Steve's Mainstream class, learning to call as well as teach. My first advertised appearance was as a guest caller for a Spares & Pairs anniversary dance. After a year or so of guest spots and one-dance engagements for various clubs, I was asked to teach class for the Squaws & Paws square dance club in Canby, Oregon. I was filling in for their club caller, who had some conflicts that year. I taught class for one season and did two successful "New Dancer" dances for the club. The following year the club caller announced his resignation. I was asked to continue teaching the class and call one of two club dances each month, the other was called by Bill Helms, a notable Pacific Northwest area caller. Eventually Bill resigned to pursue another opportunity, and the club asked if I would do all of their dances and classes. I continued as club caller for a total of five years.
Over time, my calling schedule became busier. I was asked to teach class for the Country Cut-ups, and I continued for eight years. I began teaching for the Chaps & Petticoats when their club caller had a stroke and was unable to continue. I began teaching for the Tri-Squares when their teacher resigned. I was also teaching for the Rosetown Ramblers, and my own caller-run club, the Progeny Promenaders. In all, I was teaching five Mainstream classes per season, and one to three Plus classes as well. I took a hiatus for a couple years, but I am back now, as busy as ever. I am currently the club caller for Chaps & Petticoats, Country Cut-Ups, and the Recycles.
I am a "regular" on the circuit of clubs in neighboring Oregon and southern Washington cities. I have called for clubs in Tacoma, Vancouver, Salem, Eugene, Roseburg, Grants Pass, Medford, Redmond, Bend, Prineville, Coos Bay, Port Orford, Toledo, Rickreall, Seaside, and Yreka. I travel from 8,000 to 9,000 miles per year travelling around Oregon to dances. I have been on the program at Oregon's Summer Festival and Mid-Winter Festival for many years. I also attend and call at Central Oregon Round-up each year. I have been the caller on a number of parade floats, including General Canby Days in Canby, Oregon, the Rose Festival Star-Light Parade in Portland, Oregon, and the Grape Festival in Milwaukie, Oregon. I was also the caller for "International Showcase of Dancing" held in Portland each year for several years.