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Mason

Wolf Rockers are still going strong

Free instruction in square dancing offered

  • Mason Wolf Rockers Square Dancing Club Rich and Louise "Lou" St. Onge of Milford make a round during a Western square dance.

    Mason Wolf Rockers Square Dancing Club Rich and Louise "Lou" St. Onge of Milford make a round during a Western square dance.

  • Wolf Rocker's Square Dancing Club in Mason participates in a square dancing convention.

    Wolf Rocker's Square Dancing Club in Mason participates in a square dancing convention.

  • Mason Wolf Rockers Square Dancing Club Rich and Louise "Lou" St. Onge of Milford make a round during a Western square dance.
  • Wolf Rocker's Square Dancing Club in Mason participates in a square dancing convention.

MASON — Do-si-do, California twirl, Ferris wheel, promenade, right grand, left grand, load the boat and tip the canoe!

Alright, the last one isn’t actually a square dancing step, laughs Curt Dunn of Mason, one of the original members of the Mason Wolf Rockers Square Dancing Club, even though it sounds as if it might fit in.

The Wolf Rockers are an old club, formed in 1967 to perform at the town’s bicentennial celebration, but a strong interest has kept the club going strong ever since, said Dunn in a recent interview at the Mason Town Hall, where the Wolf Rockers get together once a month for a good old-fashioned square dance.

The club is named after Wolf Rock on Scripps Lane. The story goes that in 1756, the Reverend Francis Worcester left Mason after the second service of the day to walk the seven miles back to his home in Hollis, when he was attacked by wolves. He climbed the rock and rode out the night on top of it to survive until morning, when he was rescued by Capt. Thomas Tarbell, who was riding by. Wolf Rock Square Dancing Club was originally suggested, but a slip of the tongue somewhere along the way turned it into Wolf Rockers, noted Dunn.

Modern Western square dancing — the kind the Wolf Rockers indulge in — isn’t like Eastern square dancing, which is easy to pick up. Western square dancing has 68 basic calls or dance moves, meaning it takes a little bit of study to become proficient.

“It’s great exercise for your body, but it’s also really good for your brain,” said Rich St. Onge of Milford, who has been a member of the Wolf Rockers since 1998 and now sits on the executive board of the club. “You have to really think about what you’re doing. And occasionally you make a mistake, but that’s OK. You just laugh about it, get back in formation, and eventually you get back into it.”

Every year, the Wolf Rockers provide a free two-class introduction to the Western square dance, designed for absolute beginners to learn and review some of the core steps of the dance. This Sunday, they will hold the first “fun night” class, with another the following week. The idea is to show people what a good time this dance can be, said Dunn.

And the Wolf Rockers know how to have a good time. In addition to monthly dances and offering weekly square dancing lessons to the public, the group also participates in a long tradition of razzing fellow square dancing clubs in the area — a favor that’s paid in kind and in good humor. The Wolf Rockers and other square dancing clubs in the area participate in regular “raids” to steal club banners from rival groups, and, of course, counter raids to steal back their own banner when it gets snatched.

The ribbing doesn’t stop there, however, said Dunn. Square dancing clubs will sometimes visit each other to share a dance. There tends to be a nominal fee, said Dunn, that the fellow clubs sometimes get creative about paying. Once, a group of square dancers from an Ashburnham, Mass., club paid with a block of ice, with hundreds of frozen pennies inside.

“They said, ‘We’re paying in cold, hard cash,’” recalled Dunn with a grin.

Another time, a group paid with a long strip of two-sided tape covered with pennies. That was fine, recalled Dunn with a laugh, because the next time the Wolf Rockers visited their club, they paid in kind, with the same strip of pennies. And the Wolf Rockers themselves aren’t immune to pranks from their own members. One sly comment from a member about stealing toilet paper from a rival club resulted in Wolf Rockers covering the upper level of the Mason Town Hall in toilet paper — which Dunn and his wife collected and passed back to the members in paper bags marked “We recycle.”

Most of the time though, they’re just having fun with their monthly dances, which offer a potluck meal beforehand, and always have some kind of theme. Their upcoming dance on Saturday, for example, is “pie night.”

“It’s a cheap date,” said Lou St. Onge of Milford, another member of the executive board, with a smile. “Where else can you go out and have a meal and a dance for $12? And it’s great fun.”

The Wolf Rockers will be meeting for their monthly square dance this Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in the Mason Town Hall; admission is $12 per couple. Free introductory classes will be held this Sunday and Oct. 6 at the Town Hall between 6:30 and 8 p.m. Square dancing lessons are also available every Sunday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. for $5 a lesson. For more information, visit WolfRockers.com.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @AshleySaari.

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