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Loess Hills Squares

Kenard Swift joins Kelly Johnson, sharing about leaving your worries behind, having some fun and socializing with the Loess Hills Squares. View them in action on Saturday, August 20th at the 10 AM Magnolia Old Settler's Parade, join them for a free square dancing lesson on September 25th or at their next dance on September 10th.

KJ. You're listening to NonProfit News right here on 94.7 Blair Radio and And today we are talking about a tradition that is as American as anything, and that's square dancing. So I'd like to have you introduce yourself. I have a gentleman with us Hills square dancers coming in and speaking with us today. Thank you for taking some time here.

KS. Thank you for having me. And your name is Kennard Swift. Kennard swift and you are again part of the Loess Hills square dancers, is that correct? Correct. And so tell us a little bit about yourself. You know, where are you from around here? I have lived in the Woodbine area for over seventy years.

KJ. Okay, so you are a definitely a local.

KS. Yes, sir.

KJ. You're born and bred and raised and everything. And so family and everybody's around here?

KS. Yes. I have one daughter lives in Omaha one lives in Logan. I've got a son lives in Nebraska city, so.

KJ. And so what do you do and what have you done? Where would people know you around here?

KS. Swift Locksmithing. Swift small engine repair. I've been in that business for over 20 years. Before that, I drove truck for several different companies. So like I said, I've lived here all my life. I've had people say hi to me that I didn't know who they were didn't remember who they were. They knew me. But I didn't recognize him.

KJ. So and that happens to a lot of people. Where are you all of a sudden is like okay, Hey, you. Yeah, yeah. So it's always good to have, but it's a good reputation, though.

KS. Well, as far as I know, I've got a good reputation. I haven't I haven't had anybody take a shot at me lately.

KJ. So there you go. That's, that's always a positive to get out on a Monday or Tuesday.

KS. Yes it is.

KJ. So in the spare time, because you had your own business so really there was no spare time, I'm sure.

KS. Very little.

KJ. So when you did have spare time. You found yourself doing a myriad of things including square dancing.

KS. Yes, sir.

KJ. And so that that's actually what we're here to talk about today. Is the Loess Hills Square Dancers. And how long has this been going on?

KS. The club has been in existence for five years.

KJ. Okay.

KS. I've been calling since 1994.

KJ. All right. And you've been dancing since

KS. 1968.

KJ. So you you know all about square dancing then don't you?

KS. I wouldn't say I know all about it but I know enough to keep me out of trouble.

KJ. All right. And would you say the state of square dancing is pretty strong these days?

KS. Not as strong as it was before the COVID. We've had a lot of people that course we couldn't dance during during Ramadan and we've had a lot of people not come back they say well we haven't danced for two and a half years and we didn't miss it so we're not coming back. But those that have come back have come back with a vengeance because they missed it.

Square dancing - a lot of people hear square dancing and they get turned off because it sounds so country right? Square dancing is very social. You you learn to square dancing, you meet friends square dancing, you can go to other states it goes great as you go other countries. Square dancing is worldwide.

You get in social events. We started camping with some people that we square dance with and we belong to what's called Dutch Oven Dabbers because of scored so we got we got with friends and it just, if you let it, the socialization with square dancing will expand you into other areas of activity and friendship.

KJ. Sure, sure. It's not when you go square dancing, you're not the whole time square dancing,

KS. Correct

KJ. You have to sit down have a nice beverage and be able to talk and communicate with one another. Right?

KS. Correct.

KJ. And so that is that is the biggest part of it. That is it is

KS. I'm going to clarify here - You cannot square dance and drink alcohol.

KJ. While I didn't say that - nice beverage - I kept that nice in general. But that's that's a good thing to know.

KS. A lot of people think they dance better (drinking), but it throws the timing off. You don't think as quickly or as clearly, even after one beer. I know because I've done that, and it just it doesn't work.

KJ. Okay, so it's a nice, family friendly thing.

KS. It is. It is very family friendly. We teach square dancing to anyone from eight to 80.

KJ. Okay. And so now this has been going on you have this club. How did that get started?

KS. How did the club get started? Well, about five years ago, six years ago, we had some young people from Woodbine that I knew their parents and grandparents, and they want to learn square dance. And they knew that I was a caller, they've known me all their life. And they want to take square dance lessons. I said, Okay, I said, you get a group of people together, at least one square, and we'll find a place and we'll have lessons.

So we went through the lessons, and after everything was all done, one of the gentlemen, one of the husbands, he said, "Okay, so now where do we go to dance?"

I said, Well, I said, "Right now the only place you can go to dance is either Omaha or Sioux City.

There's nothing closer, right? He said, I don't even go to Omaha to bowl, he says, What else is there?

And I said, "The only other options if you wanted to start a club right here in the Valley." And we discussed that for a while. And all of a sudden, they said, 'Let's do it.'


So we sit down, we did some brainstorming, came up with a name. And the rest, as they say is history.

All right. And so it is a nonprofit organization.

KS. That is correct.

KJ. But it does take funds to be able to have a facility and and do all this.

KS. That is also correct.

KJ. So how do you go about that?

KS. The fees that we charge, the donations that we take for lessons and the dances is what pays for the hall and the callers that we have, outside callers that we have come in. And we've never done. There are some clubs that have had what's it called? fundraiser? Dances, right? We've never we've never had to do that we've always been monetarily, we've always been able to take care of ourselves.

KJ. So all right, well, we're gonna come back and talk about how people can get involved with this because it's great socially. It's great exercise. And it's great to build community, right?

KS. The exercise is both physical and mental. Because you've got to, you got to utilize both. And it's very social. You meet some really great people. They're all there for the same thing is to have fun. Now, there's one thing about square dancing that I can't stress enough. It's the fact that when you walk through the door to the hall, and get out there on the floor, your troubles for the day, or the week they're gone. I mean, you will literally forget every problem you had for the week once you hit that floor. Yeah, because you're out there to have fun along with everybody else.

KJ. All right, well, we're gonna come back and talk more about how everybody can be involved in that because that sounds like something we could all use once in a while to leave those troubles behind. Square dancing. We're going to talk about it continued on right here on 94.7 Blair Radio and

KJ. NonProfit News today is talking all about leaving your worries behind and having some fun socially and square dance time right here on 94.7 Blair radio and We're talking about Loess Hills Squares Square Dancers. And if you missed the previous segment, you can always go to our website, listen online at

KJ. So we want to get into how do people participate? How do they be able to find out more about it and, you know, learn about square dancing.

KS. The easiest way I guess, would be if you went to that would give you all the clubs and locations of lessons, locations of clubs, dances, and things of that nature also gives you a list of all the callers in the area that you can contact for, to check on lessons and whatnot. That would be for most people checking that would be the simplest way to get a hold of any of them.

KJ. All right. Well, that brings up an interesting question for me. You guys have a hall. So you teach lessons people can be involved there. Yes, sir. Can somebody say well, we're going to have a gathering at our farmstead and stuff like that. Can we get somebody to come on out and be a part of that?

KS. Funny you should mention that I have done two what we call a one night stand. I've done two of those up into Tekamah. I've got one coming up next month over in Harlan. People have us come in and teach them square dancing for anniversaries or birthdays if they've got a relative that either used to square dance, or would would think it would be fun to find out. So learn it. Yeah, we'll come in and teach enough moves. Just you have fun for the night.

KJ. I'm just thinking, you know, there's anniversary parties and stuff like that going on. And there's these clubs in the halls and stuff like that, that are being rented. But they don't have the dance halls or the square dance or something like that might be a great thing to be able to bring in and entertain and of course, take the worries away.

KS. That it is it's a lot of fun. And as a caller, we have our own equipment. We got speakers, we've got amps, and we use now we use computers used to be all on 45. Yeah, but it's all mp3 is now.

KJ. Yeah.

KS. So it we carry a whole lot more music with us. And a lot of people think that square dancing is strictly country western. It's not. We do everything. Of course, we got a lot of country but excuse me, we run stuff all the way. 60s 70s 80s 90s I have even got a couple of them that are what we use hip hop, regay. Yeah. There's all kinds of music we use for this activity?

KJ. So it's actually a music lovers thing to do?

KS. It is it really is, if you enjoy music, or if you enjoy singing. Come join us. There's a few of us, if it's got songs that we get a get carried away, we'll throw them on and have everybody join in and sing along with us while they're dancing.

KJ. Yeah. And so if somebody wants to learn more or be a part of the Loess Hills clubs specific, how would they get ahold of you? Or where would they go?

My phone number is 712-592-0074 or you can go to Facebook Loess Hills Squares. Search for Loess Hills Squares. It will bring up our Facebook page and you can get a lot of information there.

KS. Our lessons will start September 25. And we have we go through 10 weeks of pretty intense training and the first lesson is free.

KJ. Okay. You come in try to get them hooked. You come in try it and if you like it it's fantastic we'll keep going. If not nothing ventured nothing gained as I say

right if you don't try it you never know

KS. exactly

KJ. what is you know it's the fee donation what is on average the fee and donation to be a part of it for lessons.

KS. They usually charge about $5 per person per lesson.

KJ. That's pretty nominal for a good evening to go out right

KS. and and if you go to a dance once you learn square dancing and want to want to go to a dance out, the clubs are charging $7 per person per dance for two and a half hour to anywhere from two to two and a half hours of dancing.

KJ. Okay, so that is pretty much a cheap date.

KS. I don't think you can go anyplace around here for $7 a person

KJ. No now be able to enjoy a great couple hours. And so, again, it is time to be able to learn something new. And it's not just you know, we were talking actually off air a little while ago about the attire way it used to be. I remember parents and grandparents having to dress a certain way. It's a little bit different now.

KS. Yes, sir. There used to be a regiment that you had to wear square dance attire. The ladies had the fancy dresses and the crinolines and everything that that actually denoted square dancing. Now they have, because of the price of the ladies clothes, they have relaxed that to where ladies are wearing dress slacks, men, of course are still dressing in their their regular slacks, dress shirts. And they prefer that you wear - I don't, but - they prefer that the men wear long sleeve shirts because you get dancing, you get sweaty and women don't like to grab hold of a sweaty forearm.

KJ. That makes perfect sense. So there you go. So again, you can go to their Facebook page Loess Hills Squares, and learn more about it.

KJ. September 25.

KS. That's what lessons start. Yes, sir. From two to six.

KJ. Two to six. And then the dances themselves start.

KS. September 10 is our first dance and I will be the I will be the caller at that dance.

KJ. Okay.

They will all be at the Parlor, 116 South Sixth Street in Missouri Valley.

KJ. All right, well, looking forward to it. And you know, we may have to go out and do some video and get everybody involved and find out about all .. if I am able to do some dancing or not. I don't know.

KS. Come on out. We'll we'll teach you how to do it.

KJ. All right. Well, thank you for coming in and talking about this. Anytime you have something a big event or anything, let us know.

KS. Oh, we do have by the way if you want to if you want to come watch.

KJ. Yeah.

KS. This Saturday morning (August 20th) 10 o'clock. Magnolia. The Old Settlers parade

KJ. Right?

KS. I almost forgot about that. If you want to come watch us try to dance on a float driving down the street. Come laugh at us or cheer us on because we always we have a ball out there demonstrating the dancing on the float.

KJ. That's always entertaining trying to dance on a moving object.

Very, very. We haven't had any broken legs yet.

KJ. That's good. That's good. So and that's up to you being a caller to make sure everybody's safe. Right?

KS. That's correct.

KJ. Well, again, thank you for what you do. And thank you for keeping something strong and our culture growing that is just throughout American history, but world history really

KS. Correct.

KJ. All right. Well, thank you. And again, anytime you have something coming up, let us know. We'll make sure people know about it.

I will do that. Thank you very much.


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