ROCK SPRINGS — The Sweetwater County Events Complex will host hundreds of square dancers from 22 states and three countries Aug. 17, 18 and 19 and the public is invited to watch free of charge.
Dancing begins daily in four separate dance halls at 10 a.m. with a lunch break from noon to 1 p.m. and continues until 10 p.m. with a dinner break from 5-7 p.m. each day.
On Saturday, the big tent on the Midway will open up to the public with free dance lessons. Beginning line dancing will be taught from 1-2 p.m., square dancing will be taught from 2-3 p.m., round dancing will be taught from 3-4 p.m. and contra dancing lessons will go from 4-5 p.m.
“It’s an excellent opportunity for someone to try dancing without making a commitment to lessons,” said Holly Dabb, Co-chairman of the USA West Convention.
In addition, four different Exhibition Groups from Colorado, Washington, and two from California will perform each day in the main dance floors from 11:30-12 p.m. and from 4:30 to 5 p.m.
After The National Square Dance was held multiple years in the Eastern part of the United States, a group of dancers in the western United states formed USA West in 1997. Made up of representatives from 13 states including Alaska and Hawaii, the USA West Policy Board works to host a large convention with educational opportunities in the west.
“Thousand of people in the United States and Canada square dance regularly in small communities,” Dabb said. “If they are unable to travel to a large convention and learn new things, they will slowly quit dancing.”
“We host a large convention closer to home,” she said.
A key component to the convention are the educational opportunities. Classes are conducted throughout the day on “How to revive a small club,” “Licensing requirements” and “Sewing.” In addition to the classes, 30 callers and 12 cuers will take turns on the microphone doing additional dance workshops.
“Someone who has only danced Mainstream calls can attend workshops on Plus, Advanced or Challenge moves,” Dabb said. It is also a great opportunity for someone who has danced in the past, and wants to start again, to get refresher courses.”
One dance hall will be reserved for Round Dancing, a style of dance similar to ball room dancing to a cuer who programs the moves. Contra dancing, a style of folk dancing in lines, will be conducted daily from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Hosted last year by Pocatello, Idaho and next year by Reno, Nevada, Dabb said “It was a wonderful opportunity for Rock Springs to host a large convention and spark an interest in square dancing.”
“I want to thank the residents of Rock Springs for hosting USA West, so we opened the doors to the public to watch in addition to adding a Saturday community dance lessons at no charge,” Dabb said.
“We are asking people to stop by the registration desk and pick up visitor badges,” Dabb said. “If they enjoy themselves, they can also sign up for regular lessons, which begin in the fall.”