by Steve Huggins
The end of May saw me traveling to Denver, CO, for the 24th annual International Association of Gay Square Dance Clubs (IAGSDC) convention. I thought, “I might be able to afford this…. and it does sound like fun!” So I signed up for my first gay square dancing convention at the last minute—and even got a discount for being a “Greenhorn,” AKA “Convention Virgin.”Then, without really knowing what to expect of convention other than a lot of square dancing, I started to get really excited.
Thursday evening was the first official event I attended, and the first chance to get on the floor: the Trail-In dance. My dancing skills felt unusually rusty as I danced with strangers for the first time and got used to new callers and a different type of floor. I left the dance feeling both elated over being there and worried about my skills. The elation lasted the entire convention; the worry was needless.
The next day, dancing started in earnest and I started to feel a lot more comfortable. Each level had its own room, so it was easy to either challenge myself, or hang back a bit in the Mainstream room. After a good amount of foot stomping, meeting all kinds of new people, and having great fun trying the different levels, it was time to get ready for the Grand March. Wow! It was really inspiring to see all the clubs with their uniforms marching to line up for the group picture, and I was starting to understand why it is so important to attend convention!
Then, there were the specialty tips. I attended the Bear Tip, which is traditionally shirtless. What fun seeing all that fur dancing! The first full day ended with the hilarious Honky Tonk Queen contest—seeing our own Harlan in drag was a pleasure I did not expect! The creativity of the costumes, with light-up boobs, roller skates and twirly tassels was amazing!
The next day’s danc-ing was interrupted only by the dinner Banquet. There were a lot of announcements as we ate, and presentation of some awards. I had no idea there are people who have been to every convention since the first one back in 1983, but now I understood how this community is about so much more than a recreational pursuit.
Later I attended the Leather Tip, showing off my new leather shorts and dancing in my harness. Ouch! Talk about pinched skin…. I might leave the harness behind next year!
Later in the night was the secretive Moonshine Tip, done in the nude. Everyone was asked to leave the room while it was prepared: tape was put over all openings (door cracks, etc) so the hotel staff and curious non-participants couldn’t see in. We filed into the room, being patted down or cameras or other recording devices. Everyone squared up like normal, then came the command from the caller, once the doors were locked: “Strip!”
It happened so fast it was comical! Everyone’s clothes just flew off and we were back squared up like normal. This was the hardest (no, not that kind of “hard”) tip for me to dance because it was so difficult to concentrate with several very well endowed guys in other squares. I wanted to watch, but had to dance… argh! Then, like a mirage, and almost as quickly as it appeared, the room full of naked dancers was dressed and filing out of the room, leaving only the memory of bouncing mammaries and swinging testes.
The next day brought more dancing followed by the closing ceremony. It was great to see everybody in one huge room again, this time saying “Goodbye” to new friends and making plans to meet up again at the next convention.