Although it marked the end of a long-standing local tradition, the celebration Friday night was anything but somber.
Groups of people lined up, joined hands, swung and do-si-doed for the last time as an organized club in Qualicum Beach, as the Circle Eights Square Dance Club held their final dance after 33 years.
“We’re sorry to see it end,” said secretary of Circle Eights, Tony Antoniuk. “However, we do hope the members who participated with us had a good time and will continue with other clubs.”
Membership has dropped right off, Antoniuk said, and the club hasn’t been able to attract beginners for about four years.
There were only 19 members in the end, and the same people were taking on the executive positions, Tony Antoniuk explained. Five months ago, the club voted to discontinue.
Members from other clubs around the Island attended the dance Friday, and there was four generations of dancers from one family in attendance.
Antoniuk joined the club in 1993 and met his wife at beginner lessons.
He said what he’ll miss the most is the camaraderie from members in his group and with others in the Island locations the group has visited. The activity, he said, is good, clean fun.
“It’s a clean activity, there’s no liquor involved, there’s not drinking involved, so you go there for the purpose of strictly dancing and then you have a social after with a little lunch and coffee, and then everyone goes home.”
Rocky Woolverton, with Parksville’s square dance club, The Sand Dollars, said membership at that club is stable.
“We have some new students but it’s not as popular as years gone by.”
Woolverton said there is no lack of enthusiasm from those who are currently in the club, and the main reason there aren’t more people is due to a lack of time. There’s an initial time commitment to learn the dances, Woolverton said, and often people don’t feel they have the time to commit. But the Parksville club has a program that fast tracks the usual amount of time needed to learn the steps. He said he and his wife have been doing the dances for about seven years and they thoroughly enjoy it, and wish they had discovered it earlier. It’s a healthy exercise, with both mental and physical benefits, he said.
Woolverton and his wife commonly attended the Qualicum Beach dances and said they will miss it. Those interested in learning to square dance and join the Sand Dollars in Parksville can contact president President Ron Ervin at 250-954-2132.