In the late 1940's, Dorothy and Ed Eberly of 9504 Colesville Road, Silver Spring, interested their neighbors in learning to “Square Dance”. Dorothy had learned the basics of square dancing in connection with her work as a teacher in the District of Columbia school system. Mabel Smith, a neighbor, also contributed to the “Executive Direction" of the dancing by assisting in the interpretation of the directions accompanying the records used for dancing.
The music was supplied by records with the calls included thereon. Our repertoire was limited to those movements with which Dorothy and Mabel were familiar or could manage to translate from the directions in the records. 'Records with such maneuvers as the "Ocean Wave" were beyond our comprehension.'
The participants were primarily residents of the 9500 blocks of Colesville and Thornhill Roads, Silver Spring, supplemented by friends from other areas. The number of participants was usually enough for two squares. The dances were held at three week intervals, in the basements of the club members and refreshments were furnished by the hostess of the evening.
In 1955, on their night to "host" the party, Hilda and Crandall Breaden, introduced the group to something new, a real live "Square Dance Caller”, Lou Hildebrand. Hilda and Crandall had heard Lou call at a church sponsored dance and had decided that a live caller was an improvement over the recorded calls with which we had been laboring. Lou's services were not immediately utilized on a regular basis. We eventually realized that a live caller would expand the number and variety of the dances we could do and expand our technical knowledge of square dance "movements”.
In 1956, our thinking progressed to formally organizing a club, with Lou, as our caller, that would be recognized by other organized square dance groups. The club, as organized, consisted of about 12 couples, including a few recent graduates from one of Lou's "beginner classes”. It adopted the name “Village Swingers”, formulated By-Laws and elected its first officers. It started meeting in Lou’s basement, which it eventually outgrew, and moved its meeting place to available schools and county recreation centers.
Gradually, the club members and, the caller recruited additional members until we were dancing regularly, perhaps four squares. However, in 1958, the club was more than doubled in size by the addition of a large group of graduates from Lou's beginner classes. At about the same time, other experienced dancers became interested in joining the club in such numbers that it became necessary to limit club membership because of meeting space limitations.
Mabel Smith, Secretary-Treasurer for the two year period ending in June, 1961, is to be commended for establishing the first formal records of the administrative proceedings and financial activities of the club. Although Clif and Mabel moved to Florida in December, 1970, they continue their association with the club as Honorary Members.
Lou Hildebrand retired from the calling profession at the close of the dancing season ending in June, 1963. The club began the next dancing season in September, 1963, with guest callers and then On November 2, 1963, Chuck Donahue took over as the club's regular caller. The club was fortunate in securing a caller of Chuck's abilities to take over from the ever popular Lou. After Chuck's departure in 1971, our callers were Jimmy Heatwole from 1971-1973; Charles Govsky' from 1973-1975; Bill Wright from 1975-1978; and our present caller - Kenny Farris, who took over in September, 1978 to date.
We danced at Sligo Middle School until 2005, but due to increasing expenses for the rental of the school, we moved to the Kensington Fire Dept in the Fall of 2005. There was not enough space, therefore, we then moved to our current location, Rockville Nursing Home in 2006. We have been there since and hope to continue our relationship with the staff of the nursing home and the residents.
This brings us up to date. So here we are, after an obscure start in a basement, one of the oldest clubs in the area, in our 59th year, with a successful past. We believe that with our outstanding Caller, Kenny Farris, our excellent square dance teacher, Eva Murray, and the talent in the Club, we are assured a continuing future of many more years of enjoyable dancing and pleasant social activities.
Betty & Lou Mastrobattista