Thanks to the like-minded efforts of a few local community members, an organized square dancing club has returned to Merrill.
Organized last fall by Jessie Gruetzmacher, sister in-law Amanda Herdt and Amanda’s brother Dominic Gruetzmacher, the “Square ‘Em Up” Square Dancing club brings organized square dancing lessons back to Merrill after a 10-year hiatus.
As club caller Amanda explains, prior to 2008, her father Warren Gruetzmacher was club caller of the “Lincoln Square” Square Dancing Club since 1972. The club first formed in 1962.
“Square dancing at one time was very popular around Merrill and Lincoln County. My dad enjoyed square dancing very much and was club caller for 36 years. But then interest seemed to dwindle and the club disbanded in 2008 due to lack of interest. Jessie, Dominic and I never lost interest though, we have been square dancing since we were kids and our children enjoy it too!”
Interest and love for the activity led the three to maintain involvement in other area clubs such as those in Antigo and Wausau. But recently, the three began to notice an increased and steady local interest in the age-old form of dancing; leading them to form Sqauare ‘Em Up.
“We’ve been going to other dances in the area for several years,” adds club president Jessie. “We saw a strong interest locally and decided we wanted to try and bring a club back to Merril. So far it’s been a lot of fun. We just recently graduated our first class of 48 participants ranging in age from 6-75 years old and from as far away as Edgar. It’s great to see support for square dancing come back to Merrill.”
Each class runs approximately 3.5 months, consisting of lessons given every Friday from 6-8:30 p.m. at the Pine River School for Young Learners. The goal of the lessons are to teach dancers to be callers, who essentially are the guides to a square dancing event; giving cues of what to do during the dance. Currently there are 65 various mainstream calls involved.
“Square dancing is not only fun, but it’s a great cardio workout and is endorsed by the American Heart Association!’ Jessie adds. “Many dancers don’t realize it due to having so much fun, but each square dance equals to be a 3-5 mile walk!”
The club’s second class began on Feb. 9.
Those interested in learning more can contact Jessie at 715-297-1838 or email the club at SquareDanceMerrill@gmail.com. Participants may bring a partner if they so choose, but partners are not required.