Portland’s LGBTQ+ square dance club, the Rosetown Ramblers, will be performing at the Pride Plaza on Harvey Milk Street between SW 11th and 12th on Wednesday, July 21st between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.
The Rosetown Ramblers have been active in Portland since 1983, and have hosted the Gay Square Dance Convention as well as taken part in the Portland Pride Parade since its inception.
“I just love the idea of getting to dance at the Pride Plaza because it’s good for the community to see what we do,” Jeff Knapp, club president, said. “In our (square dancing) community the demographic has skewed older and I think it’s good for people to see people of our generation out there having a great time.”
Although the ramblers haven’t had a chance to dance together since March of 2020, Knapp said there will be a lot of laughs even if there are a few missteps.
“It’s a little hokey, but some say that square dancing is friendship set to music,” he said. “We just have a great club and great people. What I love about square dancing is its eight people in a square and everyone has to work cooperatively.”
If people have an idea of what square dancing looks like in their head, Knapp said they’ll see something “completely different.” The Rosetown Ramblers said on their website that they, “Take pride in breaking many stereotypes about square dancing,” including: no dress code, no required partners, no locked-in gender roles, musical variety and high energy.
While some dancers dress in Western garb, Knapp said the Ramblers are a “casual” club and dancers can wear whatever is comfortable to them. The group also tries to incorporate modern songs into dances along with some country-Western music.
As an LGBTQ+ club, Knapp said that dancers dance in “every possible combination” and many dancers have learned both dance positions. Even though the caller will call out the move known as “boys and girls,” Knapp said it’s dance position in the square that is part of the calls that dancers learn.
“Sometimes people are taken aback by that,” he said. “But the reality is nothing works better than these one-syllable words that mean something to the dances, but it’s important to note that we dance four couples to a square but any combo of human beings.”
The Rosetown Ramblers are even getting ready to start their square dancing lessons again this September. Lessons take place on Wednesday evenings for an hour and a half at the Bridgeport United Church of Christ. Details can be found on their website, https://www.rosetownramblers.com/.
Written by Aliya Bree Hall who is a lesbian freelance journalist specializing in agriculture, business features and the LGBTQ+ community.