Square Heels History

In The Beginning…”

In  April 1994, Peggy and Jim Goldstein, charter members of Square Heels, prepared a history of the club:

During the early 1960’s, a group of friends in Chapel Hill got together on an informal basis every month or so at either the Homestead Community Center or the Umstead Community Center for a covered dish supper and a little light square dancing.  The dancing was more Appalachian-style dancing and was called by Chapel Hill dance teacher Ann Coxhead.  The group danced the same few calls each month—the focus was on fun and fellowship.

About this time, Western style square dancing was getting a start in Durham.  Several couples from the Chapel Hill group took Western style dance lessons at the Ark on the Duke campus.  They encouraged others in the informal group to form a club to meet on a regular basis and to have lessons prior to dancing.

In the fall of 1966, a group of dancers from Chapel Hill convinced a Greensboro court reporter who moonlighted as a square dance caller to help them form a square dance club in Chapel Hill [Neal Tracy]

A group was organized that danced every two weeks at the United Church on Cameron Avenue.  Some of the members of the original group dropped out at this time.  Some months later, the decision was made to dance every week, and more members dropped out, unwilling to commit to weekly dancing.  The club wanted to take square dancing seriously at a time when most people thought it was rowdy and casual.  By 1994, only Peggy and Jim Goldstein remained of the 45 charter members of Square Heels.

Lawrence Pulley was the club’s first caller, and Bob Hogan was the club’s first president.  A contest was held to name the club, and the name Square Heels was chosen because of the influence of the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill.  Jeannette and Frank Fearrington presented this name.

After graduation of the charter class, a new class was begun, and the club moved to the Holy Trinity Church on Rosemary Street, because they had more room for dancing.  When the Lutheran Church did major renovations to the fellowship hall in 1977, the club moved to Carrboro Methodist Church.  In 1995, Square Heels moved their location to the Chapel Hill Senior Center on Elliott Road.  In 1996, Square Heels found a happy home at Binkley Memorial Baptist Church at 1712 Willow Drive.

Occasionally, Square Heels uses alternate sites—the Masonic Lodge on Franklin Street, the Firehouse on Whitfield Road, the United Church of Chapel Hill on Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, and Christ Church at 800 Market Street in Southern Village.

Neal Tracy’s garage was another dance venue for Square Heels’ dancers who loved to round dance! [Morris]  Nan and Wimp Carroll’s basement also saw duty as a dance floor.

Over the years, many callers have kept Square Heels dancers on their toes!  Following the original caller Lawrence Pulley, Mack Pipkin, Garland King, Ron Shamblin, and Damon Coe called for Square Heels dancers.  Our current callers, Bob Price and Jimmy Roberson, have challenged Square Heels dancers for more than two decades!  Bob took the Square Heels’ mike in 1986, and Jimmy in 1987.

Three budding callers got their start at Square Heels.  In 1972, Jim and Norma Digg’s basement was the dance spot on Tuesday nights.  Members of the Class of 1972 became “human salt shakers” so Damon Coe could practice his calling skills!  Coe became a nationally acclaimed caller, thanks to his Square Heels guinea pigs! [Morris]  In the 1990’s, David Staples and Bob Troy also began their careers at Square Heels.

Square Heels is also an active round dance club.  Cuers have included Neal Tracy, Cliff Garrard, Barbara Stewart, Todd Hitch and Lucy Ray, and Lucille Hensley.  Our current cuer is Jim Adcock.

From the git-go, Square Heels dancers traveled!  Banner raids on local clubs in Raleigh, Durham, and Burlington promoted inter-club visiting.  Square Heels couples thought nothing of hopping in their cars and spending a weekend dancing in Asheville.  The Swap Shop Weekend at Fontana was a popular destination—one year 16 couples represented Square Heels!  [Morris]

More recently, Square Heels dancers have toured Alaska and Australia.  Caribbean cruises tan our dancers.  And weekend dances in Williamsburg, Gatlinburg, and Myrtle Beach find lots of Square Heels members dancing the night away. [Gunn]

Square Heels is always well-represented at Nationals!  And at the 2009 NC Square Dance Convention, Square Heels won the trophies for having the most dancers present as well as for having the highest percentage (a mere 97.8%) of the club participating! [Gunn]

Copyright © 2016 Square Heels of Chapel Heel