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Square Dance History
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Western Twirlers
 
Printable History  I

May 2020

Western Twirlers Square Dance Club

Square Dance Center
1801 West 2nd Street
Joplin Missouri 64801

Western Twirlers Square Dance Club established in 1948 in Joplin, Missouri. Belonged to the Tri State Square Dancing Association & Northeast Oklahoma Square Dance Association before Missouri Federation was established in 1959. Club danced at several locations in Joplin before building present location of Square Dance Center. In the early 80's, Club decided to build a square dance building for area clubs to dance at. In 1982 they formed a Board to help work on finding property & raising necessary funds. They purchased land December 6, 1983 for $2,700.00. In 1985 construction started on Square Dance Center. Cost was $30,000.00 for 100 Ft X 50 Ft. building. Due to the tremendous support of this area, a lot of past dancers volunteered their time to help build this building. A lot of benefits were also held, particularly the memory board. For a small fee, dancers could have their names engraved into it. This board is behind the caller stand in great appreciation of our past. Grand opening dance was held on August 8, 1986. With area callers for an afternoon dance, & Virgil Gemeinhart from Springfield for the main evening dance. Building was built with a concrete floor with tile to dance on. In 1997 a new wood floor was added with a cost of $25,000.00. This building can hold 12 squares on the floor comfortably, along with a Caller Stage, full kitchen, large bathrooms, and tables for socializing.

Past Club callers have been Floyd Sill, who called 25 plus years retiring in 1987. Van Greenwood then became Club Caller from 1988 thru 2010. Van called for more than 60 plus years in the four state area. He and Elfrieda remained members until Van's passing in 2018. Van & Elfrieda always set at the 1st table to greet everyone. Van & Elfrieda were in later years members of the Center's Board and Elfrieda still remains, and is still dancing with us today. Also original Board members and present Presidents of the Board are Wayne & Doris Donham. They have danced since 1978. Sadly we lost Wayne in the past year. Wayne & Doris have maintained and cleaned every inch of this building. Wayne will always be there to sweep the floor during the last tip. Van Greenwood's voice will always be heard in this building by us present members.   

Western Twirlers has been thru many changes & challenges thru these years. From dancing every Saturday night to 1st, 3rd & 5th Saturday's, then to 1st & 3rd Saturdays. In 2011 we changed to once a month. In 1953 the 2nd National Square Dance Convention was held in Kansas City, 1957 the 6th National Convention was held in St. Louis. On November 9-10, 1963 the 3rd Annual Missouri Federation Festival was held in Joplin. At the famous Connor Hotel (built in 1906 with a grand staircase made of marble) at 4th & Main & Saturday's evening dance was held at R. & S Stadium at 3rd & Virginia. Club caller was Floyd Sill, State Presidents were Ray & Georganna McCulley. This was also the 1st year for souvenir program books. Dance had live music & included round dancing. In 1967 Western Twirlers

Presidents were Conrad & Joyce Butler, club dues to Missouri Federation was $1.00. In 1968 State Festival was held again in Joplin at the Memorial Hall. In 1970 John & Karen Eubanks became Secretary of Southwest District Square Dance Association. In 1971 they became Vice President of Southwest District. John Eubanks became a caller about the same time and became Western Twirlers Club caller in 2019. The 1975 National Convention was held in Kansas City again. In 1981 Dues or Insurance cost $1.00. In 1982 Southwest District had 44 clubs. In 1983 Club dues where $ 3.00, Show-Me Doin's magazine was $5.00. Missouri ranked 6th in the world in Square Dance Clubs. In 1984 State Festival had 1,260 registered dancers, making that year the biggest Festival so far. In 1995 Membership in Missouri consisted of 132 clubs & State Festival had 900 dancers. Missouri Governor Mel Carnahan signed a bill to make Square Dancing the Official American Folk Dance of Missouri. (Currently 31 states have designated Square Dancing as their State Folk Dance. ) In 1998 Missouri State Festival was held in Joplin at the High School with the theme "Bee at State in 98". State Presidents were Mark & Rosalee Mortensen of Richland Missouri. Also the state license plate bill was passed, but the Governor vetoed the bill. (however State License plate bill did pass in 1999.)The 1998 Festival's Saturday night's After Party was held at the Square Dance Center hosted by local clubs. After party started at 11:00pm till ??? That was a packed building!! (Remember we danced on a nearly new wood floor!) In 1993 St. Louis hosted the National Convention again. In 2018 Kansas City hosted the National Convention. In 2005 Club Caller Van Greenwood received the Caller/ Cuer Hall of Fame award. In 2010 a Facebook page was set up along with an email address for extra contact information as we move into the Internet world. On May 22, 2011 an F5 Tornado tore thru Joplin's middle section. The Center was not harmed even though several past & present dancers lost their homes. 2019 Southwest District hosted the Missouri State Festival in Springfield for its 60th anniversary. Club caller was John Eubanks & Missouri State Presidents were John & Bev Staurt.

This Club & building has hosted many benefit dances, too many to count. Many thanks to those who have passed that started this Club, building, & who have been members. I had the privilege of knowing a lot of these dancers after I started in 1987. And thank you to the original board members of Jerry & Scarlet Upton, Bill & Mary Watson, Cecil & Betty Clevenger, and Wayne & Doris Donham. And the Tri State Square Dance Association ( that no longer exists) , Northeast Oklahoma Square Dance Association, Southwest District, & Missouri Federation of Square & Round Dance Clubs. Thru these 72 years we have went from a very large club to a small size club. We are still there to social with each other, past & future dances. Now in 2020 we have Covid-19 giving us even bigger challenges. Since we have not been able to dance in 3 months. What will the future hold for us now?

Shirley Winans
Secretary Western Twirlers
Joplin Missouri
E-Mail

 

5/26/20