Puddletown Squares

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Puddletown logo.jpg

Location: Seattle, WA, USA

Web site: http://www.puddletownsquares.org/

Started: 1982

Admission to IAGSDC: 1984

Status: Active

History: Puddletown started in 1982 by Art Smith. Until 2010, was part of an umbrella organization, Puddletown Dancers. The member clubs were by level: Puddletown Squares - Mainstream. Emerald City Squares - Plus, Doppler Dancers - Advanced, BOQ - Challenge. Emerald City Squares rolled back into Puddletown Squares in 1987, Doppler Dancers rolled back in 1990, BOQ rolled back in 2011.

From the Program Book for the 1st IAGSDC Convention, held in Seattle in 1984:
The dream of a square dance group in Seattle came from the excitement and camaraderie of the 1982 National Gay rodeo. Harvey Muggy had agreed to let us use the Eastlake East Tavern dance floor, and on October 13, 1982, Gay Square Dancing came to Seattle.
As the clock ticked away and the time got closer to the starting hour, the excitement grew. (That first evening) The organizing committee of five were setting up and helping the traditional caller, Sheri Nevins and her three-piece band set up. People began arriving, and by 7:15PM about 12 people had arrived. We were all a little nervous, not knowing what to expect. At 7:30PM the fiddles started playing and Sheri started her introductions to 57 people. By the end of the evening the excitement was at fever pitch...we had done it, we all had done it! Even though we had no name at that time, Puddletown Squares was born.
We stayed at the Eastlake East for three weeks, with a different caller each night. With 118 people coming that third night we were busting at the seams. We realized that all the other gay clubs around the country were dancing Modern Western Square Dancing and to be compatible, we had to move away from our traditional start. We can never thank Sheri Nevins and her band enough for the love and support that they all gave to us. During the last night there, a local caller named Walt Cavanaugh was invited and sat on the side lines and watched what we were doing. Walt had answered an ad placed in the Seattle Times. It took a lot of the right stuff for a straight man to agree to embark on the task of teaching and calling to a gay square dance group.
The next week we moved to the Odd Fellows Hall and had an attendance of 138 people. That week we also had the pleasure of having Walt call for us the first time. One week did it at the Odd Fellows and we had outgrown it. The next week we moved again, this time to our permanent new home, Pilgrim Congregational Church. The church had agreed to rent us the hall with a 11-1 board vote. That first evening at the church, we were greeted and welcomed by the church minister. Our Modern Western Square Dance classes had started.
On January 22, 1983, a group of about 40 of us went down to Portland to help kickoff their new square dance group. Gay square dancing in the Northwest was here to stay.
By Rodeo time 1983, Puddletown Squares had: graduated two classes with the combined total of 157 people into Mainstream Square Dancing; became a non-profit corporation, and through elections chosen a nine-person board; drawn up and approved club bylaws; purchased and paid for a sound system and square dance records; was on sound financial footing, and had created a lot of fun, entertainment and fellowship.

From Bob Moritz in The Ripple (2018):
The October 13th dance is the 36th Anniversary of the founding of Puddletown Squares.
Our first class started Oct 13, 1982, at Eastlake East Tavern. There were 50-60 students at $2. per class with live band and caller Walt Cavanaugh. On Nov 10, 1982, the class moved to Odd Fellows Hall,
The second class began March 2, 1983, and graduated on July 16th. Yes, the early response was so great, that they split and started a second class to prevent the first from becoming too large.
Our first graduation in Seattle was May 1, 1983, and it was held aboard a very large ferry boat on Puget Sound. There were also dancers present from Portland. It was an extremely prideful moment for all of us. Our own Lyle Boss was a graduate of this first class.
At the Reno 1982 rodeo, the decision was made to have a first general meeting next year, which was the beginning of the convention pattern, and apparently because so many things had been happening out of Seattle, they decided to hold it in Seattle.
I’m under the impression that we were the first club to have a paid professional caller, the first club to have bought our own sound system, and the first club to have four or five members go to caller’s school. Also, everyone was amazed at the numbers we were able to attract.
Harlan Kerr was made president, and Doug McPherson and Agnes Smith were made co-chairs of what would become the convention (‘All Join Hands’ in 1984). We had no idea what a “convention” meant, and when the event actually started, everyone was just stunned with delight. Doug and Agnes knew what they were doing, and knew what the dynamics would be, so it turned out to be very wise when they decided that rather than have people housed by local club members, we should have it at a hotel with everyone staying there. That way the energy was concentrated in one place, and it was nothing short of phenomenal. The official attendance for this bold experiment was 132 dancers from the various clubs. The second in Denver was 284 dancers and the third in San Francisco was 654 dancers. The rest is history.
We would go on to host the 10th convention (‘Remake the Circle’) in 1993. The largest attendance of any convention to date – over 1200 dancers. We used the HUB ballrooms and stayed in the dorms at UW.
We lost the bid in 2008 to Cleveland for the 25th Convention. But were successful with or bid to host the 35th Convention (‘Circle Back to Seattle’) earlier this year for 907 dancers.
Addendum 13 October 2021: We gathered again in 2018 for the 35th Convention in the heart of Seattle. (Circle Back to Seattle)
Fistful of Crinoline is semi-official drag appendage of Puddletown Squares


Club Caller[s]: Art Smith, Jim Goeres (d), Walt Cavanaugh, Harlan Kerr, Donna Williams, DC Cronyn, Ron Legters, Ross Crawshaw-Lopton, Bob Jervis, Gary Monday

Levels: Basic thru C-2

Dance Location[s]: Pilgrim Church (formerly) on Capitol Hill, The Timberline (now gone), St. Andrews, Mount Baker Park Presbyterian, Tibbets, The Garden House (now gone)

Fly-Ins Hosted:

West Coast Advanced & Challenge Weekend Hosted

BOQ 1990, Oct. 5-7 "Something New" (The First one!)

BOQ 1995, Oct. 13-15 "Run Wild"

BOQ 2005, Oct. 7-9 "Shake & Rattle in Seattle"

Puddletown Squares 2013, Oct. 11-13 "Fiddle Around"

Puddletown Squares 2019, Nov. 1-3 "Puddletown Grand Mix"

Conventions Hosted:

The club bid for the 25th Convention (2008) but lost the bid to Cleveland, OH, who staged Touch A Quarter Century

Accolades (or not): Puddletown can claim 4 (6 if you include Ross & Justin) Golden Boot Award Winners (and sadly) 5 Honky Tonk Queens (+ 3 who lived in Seattle for a time)

In Memoriam: (Last updated 7/18/2023 by Keith Gehrig)

    • We added 9 badges in Ottawa (2023)

Bob Weilbacher, Dale Meyers, David Simonsen, Jim Ferguson, Marian Michener, Peter Amodio, Raleigh Wieand, Robert Connors, Stephen Munkres

No badges added at the Minneapolis convention in 2022. No badges added at the Philadelphia convention in 2019.

    • We added 5 badges in Seattle (2018)

Jonica Keel, Leo Hagen, Margaret R. Cotter, Charles "Chuck" Krysieniel, Ken Fowler

    • We added 6 badges in Palm Springs (2017)

FloRohe, Doug Titus, Bruce Turnbull, Brian Nims, Adam Sacchetti, William "Bet" Abbott

No badges added at the San Francisco convention in 2013. No badges added at the Vancouver convention in 2012. No badges were added at the Atlanta convention in 2011. this is a first since we started Placing badges in 2004.

We do this almost immediately after our club photo is taken. Please join us if you wish.