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story.lead_photo.caption Square dance enthusiasts participate during a dance while wearing flared skirts and denim at a soirée in Texarkana. (Photo by Michael V. Wilson)

When the Guys and Dolls Square Dancing Club in Texarkana throws a soirée they put everything they have into it. Square dancers from all over East Texas showed up for the Friday evening kick-off dance for their two day event.

Jessie and Charline Rollins from New Boston were some of the early arrivals as the dance, called the "Dancing Across Texas—Escape the Everyday" that kicked off at 7 p.m. at the Moose Lodge on 415 S. Robison Road. Jessie had square danced with his late wife for many years and recently got Charline to try it. Now she is as enthusiastic as he is.

Bill and Gaye Travis, from the Good Times Limited dance club in Mount Pleasant, drove a little further to attend the two-day gathering. They've been dancing for five years and got started because it was something fun to do and as a bonus, they made friends wherever they went. They dance at least once a week according to Gaye but, depending on the season, can dance two or three times a week if they're in the mood.

All the dancers agreed that it takes a minimum of ten weeks of classes to learn the basics, and even then you're still a beginner, "Entry level," as Gaye put it. It takes years of practice to become truly accomplished.

The Friday dance was only the first one in weekend of activities. Saturday morning at 9 a.m. will be the business meeting for the East Texas Square and Round Dancers Association, at the Moose Lodge. Then a car show from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. followed by hospitality from 2-5 at the Hampton Inn & Suites, 4601 Cowhorn Creek Road. Then a final dance Saturday night back at the Moose Lodge from 7-9:30 p.m.

This is the first dance the statewide Federation has held in Texarkana. An early story estimated 100 to 200 dances will attend.

The car show, hospitality, and dance are all open to the public. Only members can dance Saturday evening, but everyone is welcome to come and watch, ask questions, and perhaps sign up for some classes to learn how to dance too.

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