Square Dancing in the Philippines

by The Boatswain | April 4th, 2007

One of the big recreational things we got involved in was, of all things, SQUARE DANCING!!!! There was quite an active dance club, called the Bataan Twirlers, and my two oldest kids got involved in it. Several of our friends coaxed us into it, too, and of course, I got carried away and wound up as President of the club!

One of the things I had noticed was that we often had Filipino dance groups come on base and entertain at the various clubs. I thought it might be a bit of a pay-back if we could do the same for them. After we had discussed it, I asked the command, and sure enough, they thought it was a good idea! So using a bus provided by the base recreational services, and bringing a self-powered record player, off our club would go, about once a month on a Saturday.

Almost every small village had a central square and we’d set up in it, even though there didn’t seem to be much activity. As soon as we started playing the music, however, people would appear out of the woodwork and we’d soon have a crowd! We always had someone with us who could speak Tagalog, the native language (usually the bus driver) and, of course, there was someone there that spoke English. We’d usually have a few short “squares”, then Ellen would go with the Mayor (or whoever led the town) and I’d take his wife and we’d have a GRAND MARCH! This was a great ice-breaker and we’d follow up with more dances and even get some of the people to join in with us. A good time was had by all and after a couple of hours we’d all be ready to call it a day!

The Grand March

The Grand March

Our son Bob, was also a caller for our club. (We had several callers.)

Square Dance Calling

Bob at the 1964 Cubi-Subic Square Dance Jamboree

Of course, I had to make the welcoming speech.

Van speaking at the Cubi-Subic Jamboree

Van speaking at the Cubi-Subic Jamboree

One time we heard that there was going to be a big Square Dance Jamboree in Manila, put on by a group that was flying in from the US. All the military bases had square dance clubs and we were all invited to attend. Since it was on my ship’s “off” month, I asked if we could go down on the Mark and the Command said okay!

The group practiced a bit on the way down and were all primed to show up the Statesiders! HAH! After one dance, they decided we weren’t good enough and danced by them selves, while we had to do with ourselves or others from the other bases! The gang from the US had too many NEW “calls” that hadn’t worked there way out to us yet! We all had a good time, anyway.

Practice on the way to Manila

Practice on the way to Manila

One last picture for this collection.  Our daughter Dorrie (standing on the left) with some people resting between dance practice sessions.

Resting on Deck

Resting on Deck

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The United States Navy rating of Boatswain's Mate is a designation given to enlisted members who are rated as a deck seaman. The colloquial form of address for a boatswain's mate is 'Boats'.

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