It may be a well-kept secret that Linville Land Harbor is a top Western North Carolina destination for square dancing and cued ballroom dancing, but the Mountain Mixers are ready to let the secret out.
For more than 30 years, the residential community has hosted weekly square dances throughout the summer, attracting the best national and regional callers available. Dances take place Fridays from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m., Sundays from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. and Mondays from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Linville Land Harbor recreation hall.
The Mountain Mixers’ 2012 season kicked off May 18. You don’t have to be a member of the club to attend the dances, but club membership is open to everyone — not just Land Harbor residents.
“You really become a member by learning to square dance,” said Barbara Tew, who has been dancing with the Mountain Mixers since 2005. “It’s definitely not a closed community.”
Mountain Mixers members would like to see more people attend the dances this summer, including beginners, young people and skilled dancers — whether they are locals, seasonal residents or visitors to the area, Tew said.
In the first years of the dances at Land Harbor, the location was popular with touring callers because it was the only Sunday dance held anywhere in the region. Since then, some of the country’s top callers have stuck with the Mountain Mixers, Tew said.
Caller Tim Marriner of Rock Hill, S.C., has toured extensively across the U.S. and Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, England, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Norway and Sweden.
Jerry Story, of Mission, Texas, has also traveled extensively, and distribution of his square dance recordings contributed to an explosion of Western Square Dancing in Sweden. Story is a member of the McAllen Callers Association, which promotes McAllen, Texas, as the “Square Dance Capital of the World.”
Hailing from California and Arizona, Mike Sikorsky has been calling since 1972 and was voted “Most Entertaining Caller” at CALLERLAB’s (the international association of square dance callers) first “Ozzie” Awards in Las Vegas in 2011.
Ron Libby, who now resides at Land Harbor, has been teaching and calling square dancing for 40 years. Jerry Biggerstaff of Marion is a regular at the Mountain Mixers events, and Tew calls him a “great teacher.”
“Each one has a little something about them that makes them stand out from the rest,” Tew said. “I don’t know of another program like ours that has the national callers on a regular basis in the summer.”
The Mountain Mixers also feature round dancing between “tips” (square dances) on Sundays. Round dancing is choreographed, cued ballroom dancing led by a cuer. Don and Linda Hichman of Gastonia lead round dances for Mountain Mixers, and they often write their own dances.
In 1994, the Mayo Clinic stated that a half-hour of square dancing burns between 200 and 400 calories — as much as walking, swimming or riding a bicycle. On Monday evenings, the Mountain Mixers host advanced-level square dancing, which is not as physically strenuous but is more mentally challenging, Tew noted.
“Square dancing is very good for you physically, mentally and socially,” she said.
For a full schedule of dances and featured callers, visit http://www.mountainmixers.com/danceschedule.html. For a list of scheduled workshops and lessons for beginner-, intermediate- and advanced-level square and round dancing, visit http://www.mountainmixers.com/lessons&workshops.html.
Plenty of parking is available at the Linville Land Harbor recreation hall. Donations are accepted at each dance. For more information, call (828) 260-5665 or (828) 737-9523 or visit http://www.mountainmixers.com.