Golden Boot 1994

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Golden Boot 1994 - Bill Eyler and Luis Torres

presentation at Stars & Squares Forever by Anna Damiani, Stan Boyden, Bill St. John


[from an article in SquareUp! issue 3 by Debbie Dawson]

Of all the exciting and memorable moments at a convention, perhaps the most emotional is the awarding of the Golden Boot. First presented to Art Smith in 1983, the Golden Boot has been awarded to 10 individuals and one club for substantial contributions to gay square dancing. As witnessed by hundreds in attendance at Stars & Squares Forever, two recipients were selected in 1994, Luis Torres and Bill Eyler.

Although many dancers may know Luis as the editor and coordinator of Ten Years IAGSDC: A Collection of Pages From Our Memory Book, his involvement extends back to the original days of the DC Lambda Squares and the Chesapeake Squares. He has been involved with various forms of dancing for 20-30 years, including folk, traditional and Western squares. Conducting interviews and compiling information for the book evolved into a three year project. Luis originally envisioned that he would operate exclusively as a clearing house for project materials. When that was not feasible, he assumed the responsibilities of compiling data, interviewing key people in the community, and transcribing interview tapes. He quickly adds that Roger Coffin and Karl Jaeckel were invaluable in producing the book. Many dancers would echo Karl's sentiment, "You couldn't find anyone more dedicated to the activity. He has a beautiful talent for writing."

Luis counts many rewards from being involved in gay square dancing, although meeting marvelous people is the primary benefit. He is concerned about the "push to dance at higher levels" for veteran dancers and worries about a potential breakdown of dancing at Basic, Mainstream and Plus levels. When asked about future editions of the book, he hopes someone will take on the task of documenting additional history. "It would be nice to have something for the 20th anniversary -the reactions have been very rewarding! "

"Stunned" and "utterly shocked" are how Bill Eyler recalls his reaction to being named one of the recipients of the Golden Boot. Caller for the Wilde Bunch, Bill is known for his energetic behind-the-mike personality and his contagious laughter when a square breaks down. (Of course, breakdowns rarely occur in the Wilde Bunch!) Bill calls three nights a week for clubs in the Albuquerque area and 2-3 times a month as a guest caller for fly-ins and hoe downs.

"In a nutshell, Bill is one of the shining stars among up and coming gay callers. He is talented, tactful, and understands the psychology behind square dancing and uses it to his advantage. He has bent over . backwards to·be supportive of the movement," commented Karl Jaeckel, 1990 Golden Boot recipient. Bill also received his Ten Year Medallion at the Washington D.C. convention and enjoyed sharing the stage with friends he made through dancing.

Relying on an informal, personal and traditional process, Bill and Luis have already selected the 1995 recipient of the Golden Boot award. This year's recipient meets the three criteria Bill and Luis identified: the recipient has been involved in gay square dancing over an extended period of time, he/she has been involved at the local level, and he/she has contributed at the national level. "I am confident that this year's recipient has done this and much more," added Luis.

Visiting with Bill and Luis, this writer was instantly impressed by their sincere dedication and commitment to square dancing. Their energy and motivation is summed up by Luis, "If you see something that needs to be done, do it!"