BILLINGS - Square dancing was extremely popular back in the 1960s and 1970s. Fast forward to 2023 and one organization is keeping the art form alive in the Billings area and is hoping to spur a revival.
Big Timber native Bob Hogemark has been square dance calling for decades.
“I got a turn table and started listening to the songs and kind of picked it up,” said Hogemark on Thursday.
The Park City math teacher has seen how square dancing has changed in popularity throughout the years.
“There’s a lot fewer dancers currently. There’s just so much more competition for our free time now,” Hogemark said.
Even he was pleasantly surprised at the number of folks who came out to MetraPark’s Cedar Hall Thursday night for an introductory square dance session.
“This is one of the biggest turnouts we’ve had in a long, long time, yea. Probably at least ten years or so,” said Hogemark.
It’s something the Yellowstone Square Dance Council hopes will continue throughout the season, a lofty task if no one knows they exist.
“Everybody’s getting older and it’s hard to bring new people in,” said a member of the council, Ann Hindley.
Part of Hindley’s mission as the author of the council’s newsletter is to spread the word to the younger generation, and MSU B student Katie B heard the call.
“I love dancing, any opportunity. I feel like there’s not a whole lot outside of bars so when I heard about this, I had to come,” B said.
It’s an opportunity for B to learn more about the history of square dancing in her hometown as well.
“I think it’s a shame that it’s not as popular as it was back then,” said B.
If she keeps it up, she might one day end up like Mike and Pat Hastings, who met at a single’s square dance decades ago.
“We’d known each other and just got talking. The next thing you know, we’re dancing there and then we’re dating,” said Mike Hastings.
And the Hastings are still dancing to this day.
“We love it! We enjoy it, it's good clean fun, we don’t have to go to the bar to have it,” said Mike and Pat Hastings.
There will be another introductory square dance at MetraPark’s Cedar hall on Thursday, January 26. It costs $10 to sign up and you can find more information at Square Dance Billings | Squaredancemontana.