GETTING TO KNOW JIM DAVIS: CLUB PRESIDENT & DEANNE DAVIS: PUBLICITY COORDINATOR [MajorKeys.org]

WEBSITE:   www.MajorKeys.org

FACEBOOK PAGE: Major Keys Square Dance Club

INSTAGRAM: majorkeyssquaredance

YOUTUBE:  Major Keys Square Dance

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IMG_2805 (2)What is Major Keys Square Dance Club?

We are a fun, friendly, non-profit social organization that has been in Whittier since 1973.  We are excited to share the love of square dancing with everyone and help continue the tradition of California’s official state folk-dance by teaching classes, holding monthly dances, doing demonstrations and special events.

Who are Jim and Deanne Davis?

Jim is the current club president for Major Keys, and Deanne is the publicity coordinator.  We have been with the club since 2010 and we want everyone to have as much fun as we do, and enjoy all the benefits of square dancing.

What are the physical benefits of square dancing?

It is great aerobic exercise, equal to hiking about 3-5 miles. It strengthens and tones muscles and loosens joints, but is low-impact with less risk of injury than other types of sports or activities.  It also improves flexibility, balance and coordination.  

What are the mental benefits of square dancing?

Recent studies show that square dancing reduces the effects of aging on your brain.  The combination of exercise with listening, learning, memory recall, quick reaction time, and social interaction uniquely stimulates the brain’s synapses and prevents the loss of white-matter better than any other type of exercise or mental activity tested.  Square dancing also reduces stress, enhances mood, induces laughter, and provides a mental challenge and satisfaction like solving a puzzle.  It helps develop listening skills, and sharpens your ability to focus and pay attention.  

What are the social benefits of square dancing?

In square dancing you develop a large circle of friends which provides an antidote to isolation or depression. You can forget your troubles as you “dance your cares away.” It develops teamwork and cooperation rather than competition.  It is an activity where family and friends of all ages can participate together. And it promotes a sense of community as people from all different cultures, backgrounds and demographics, whose paths might not otherwise cross, can interact in a fun way and build positive relationships.

What do you like about square dancing?

Jim: It’s easier for me than other types of dancing. It doesn’t matter so much where your feet go, if you start with your left or right foot, or if you are standing with your weight on your toe or your heel.  All you have to do is get your body to a certain place in the formation.  The caller tells you where to go, so you don’t have to remember the choreography.  The other dancers are really helpful too, and we all like to be goofy and have a good time.

How did you become interested in square dancing?

Deanne: When I was a little girl I remember looking over a railing to a plaza down below where a square dance was taking place. I could see the swirling colors and patterns of the ladies’ skirts as they twirled around, while the men seemed to magically float among them on a moving kaleidoscope ocean. The music was playing and everyone was laughing and clapping. I was mesmerized, and from that moment I knew I wanted to square dance.

How does someone learn to square dance?

We offer a beginner’s class on Thursdays from 7-9 pm, starting in September through Whittier Parks and Recreation.  No experience is needed, and no partner is required. It just takes practice. After 18 weeks, dancers are ready to “graduate” at the Mainstream level and will be able to attend dances locally and all over the world.  Some people choose to go on learning more advanced square dance levels.  Most are having so much fun they invite their friends and continue attending class on Thursday nights as “angels” to help a new set of dancers learn Mainstream.  Another beginner class will start in February.  If someone misses the first or second class, they can still join because the lessons are reviewed every week.

What problems do you see in society today?

Our society has become so isolated. People spend so much time connected to electronics and social media.  I wish everyone would just unplug those things once in a while and connect  to real people.  People are designed to live in community and interact with each other. We have so much to offer one another: a smile, a hug, a hand-shake, hearing someone say your name and give you affirmation.  These are simple things that we all need, yet we are starving ourselves of them, or looking in the wrong places.  Square dancing is a way to meet that need for connection in a safe, family-friendly atmosphere.

What could Whittier do to help promote square dancing?

Square dancing is so beneficial, I would love to see it offered in schools again.  It would be great as a college PE class, and a fun after-school program or activity for younger students. As a community, I would like to see square dancing taking place in parks or outdoor venues where it would be more visible and accessible to everyone, maybe at a street-fair, at concerts in the park, or at a shopping center.  I wish there was an old barn or building with a big wood floor that could be converted into a dance hall, that hundreds of folks from Whittier would be brave enough to try it and discover they love square dancing!

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