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Forget 2016: Party like it's 1816 this weekend

While square dancing might bring to mind images of "Road to Avonlea" and "Little House on the Prairie" barn dances, it is actually something that's still done in the 21st century. A case in point is the square dance event being put on Jan.
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060115_JeanFrancois_Berthiaume
Check out Quebec-based traditional caller, percussionist, accordionist and step dancer Jean-Francois Berthiaume at the Festival of Traditions this weekend. Supplied photo.
While square dancing might bring to mind images of "Road to Avonlea" and "Little House on the Prairie" barn dances, it is actually something that's still done in the 21st century.

A case in point is the square dance event being put on Jan. 8 and 9 by La Slague and Fiddleworks.

The event, held at Club 50 in Chelmsford, includes a Friday evening dance that starts at 8 p.m. and a Saturday square dancing workshop that starts at 4 p.m., followed by another dance at 8 p.m. that evening.

It features live fiddle music and calls by professional Quebec-based dance caller Jean-François Berthiaume, who, with his big, bushy beard, definitely looks like someone from times gone by.

If you're hesitant to attend because you've never square danced before, you shouldn't be, said Fiddleworks president Paul Lemelin.

The nice thing about having Berthiaume there is he runs participants through the dance moves before the music starts, said Lemelin, an accomplished fiddler who will be performing at the event.

For those who feel they need a little more extra help, they can attend the Saturday workshop.

It's all a lot of fun, Lemelin said.

“I'm often on stage doing the fiddling, but I love being able to find somebody else to take over so I can dance a couple dances. It's just so much fun.”

Lemelin, who has young kids himself, said the event is family friendly.

“Last year, we had a lot of families there with young children,” he said. “It's a place where you can bring the grandparents, kids, aunts and uncles.”

While female square dancers have traditionally worn skirts with crinolines, Lemelin said you can wear whatever you want.

“You could wear a Hawaiian shirt and Speedo and it would be fine,” he said. “You might get funny looks, though.”

Tickets cost $15 for the Friday dance, $10 for the Saturday workshop, $15 for the Saturday dance, or $20 for both the Saturday workshop and dance. Discounts are available for Fiddleworks and La Slague members.

Purchase tickets at the door or by phoning 705-618-7285.

Heidi Ulrichsen

About the Author: Heidi Ulrichsen

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