Even though he was born into the activity in 1970, Bobby has been active in the square dance community since learning to dance in September 1978. In June 1982, he began his calling career with help from his father, Bob Poyner, along with many other local and national callers. Starting in late 1992, he taught his first beginner's class and has maintained at least one class every year since. Throughout his career as a caller, Bobby has traveled to many states as well as overseas to do square dances. He maintains a full-time calling program at home while traveling part time throughout the Midwest region and nationally doing dances, weekends, festivals and conventions. Bobby currently calls Basic through A2 and is available for private parties, one-niters, lessons, workshops, dances, weekends, festivals and conventions.
Saundra Bryant was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago. She first started square dancing when she was eight years old as a Girl Scout with her best friend Alicia. The leader of the troop happened to be Alicia's mother, world famous square dance caller Swersie Norris. Swersie taught square dancing to youth groups and coached boy's basketball and baseball. In fact, that's how Swersie found dance partners for the girls; she would make the boys dance with them before they could play ball!
After going to college, Sandie returned to square dancing in 1978. By this time, Callerlab had established dance levels and calling lists. She went back to a Beginners class Swersie was teaching, but didn't believe she'd remember any of her past training. To everyone's surprise, she wound up directing traffic in the square. So Swersie gave her the entire Mainstream and Plus list to study.
By October, Swersie thought Sandie had lost her mind. Sandie had gone from non-dancer to C4 in one year! By the summer of 1980, Sandie called her first National Convention in Memphis and proceeded to establish herself as one of the premiere callers in the country.
Around 1988, a Times Squares dancer told her about a new year-old club called the Chi-Town Squares, who were looking for a caller. Club cofounder, Ron Goodman, later called her, informing her that we were a gay club. Her response was basically, "And I'm a black caller!" So they had a little laugh and it was never an issue from the start. As it turned out, Sandie wasn't available to teach that year on Tuesdays, but she recommended a man by the name of Lindle Jarvis. And the rest is history!
Sandie called a few dances for us at Carol's Speakeasy and then called many regular club dances at the Wellington Ave. Church. In 1989, she called at our first Crossfire fly-in and has called at every one since. Her first IAGSDC convention was in Seattle in 1993.
Sandie is internationally known, having called in Japan, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Canada and Mexico.
When asked what she likes most about Chi-Town Squares, she said we were an enthusiastic, encouraging, and most of all, fun group. The admiration is definitely mutual. In recognition of her many years of generous and loving support of Chi-Town Squares; her incomparable calling at social dances and classes, her volunteerism at demonstration dances, and her presence at each and every Crossfire fly-in; all of which has resulted in a mutual friendship and admiration by the club and the entire square dancing community, a Lifetime Membership was bestowed upon Sandie in January, 2002.
Sandie still lives on the South Side of Chicago with her husband, Albert and her daughter, Alexandra. We are truly privileged to have Sandie here in Chicago.
THE BENIGN BEGINNING
Or maybe I was born a middle-class white child in North Eastern, PA, way back in the early 60's. I had a normalish childhood with some really great stories. (Ask me how I learned to ride a bike.) Family was and is very important and we had huge family gatherings at least once per month.
THE AWKWARD EARLY EARLY YEARS
High school brought a move to the Amish country of PA, with a short stint on an actual Amish farm. I started my performing career as a tour guide on buses through the Lancaster countryside. For some reason the grandmothers all loved me, but none of the HS girls ever gave me a second look. (Ah well)
THE UNCOOL MIDDLE EARLY YEARS
Next up - college. I attended Indiana University of Pennsylvania (yes, really in PA). Spring break, 1981 I attended a square dance with my parents (students at the time). They said "Doesn't this look like fun?" I said "Sure, but I like that guy, the caller. He gets to tell everyone where to go!!" But first I had to learn to dance. Now, one thing you should know about me is: I'm impatient. So, they gave me the Callerlab MS book and said "OK, we're going to another student level dance tomorrow. You study this and you can dance." I studied overnight, then went and made EVERY mistake possible, including apologizing after each call. Now impatience is just one of my good traits. I'm also obstinate. I went back home and studied more, but now with a frame of reference. Three more dances that week and I was totally hooked. OK, Now on to calling ...
THE EDUCATIONAL LATE EARLY YEARS
While at college, I was befriended by a caller named Norm Shaffor. The next 3 years, for 4-6 nights/week, we would ride together into Pittsburgh. We'd talk calling the whole way there. At the dance, he'd let me call a tip. Then he'd critique me the whole way home. Honest immediate and direct criticism was very motivating.
THE INDEPENDENT EARLY MIDDLE YEARS
Late 1984, I moved to the Washington DC area and decided to give up square dancing. Before quitting, I went to one more dance. There, I met a group of singles my age. Instead of quitting, I was drawn deeper and deeper into the cult. Within a year I was the club caller for 2 clubs. I worked my way up to calling C3B by 1986 (did I mention impatience?) Soon after, a DC Lambda Squares member heard me call, and asked if I'd like to audition to be the DCLS club caller. I'm proud to still be with DCLS, more than 24 years later.
THE FAMILIAL MIDDLE MIDDLE YEARS
I called my first fly-in for Baltimore’s Chesapeake squares. This included an hour of die-hard hot hash lying on my back with my eyes closed (we were all young and stupid once). My first IAGSDC convention was in NYC in 1989. 1990 brought “married with children.” I continued to call, but my focus was more at home.
THE STATIC LATE MIDDLE YEARS
A blur of coaching soccer games, piloting airplanes and calling dances and fly-ins.
THE PROGRESSING EARLY LATE YEARS
In the early 2000’s I became the club caller for Baltimore’s Chesapeake Squares and continued calling for DCLS as well. I also began teaching Boot Camp weekends (A complete program/level in a weekend). These were done at MS, Plus, A and C1. In addition, I was fortunate enough to begin mentoring callling students. All have gone on to call dances and a few are now entering the fly-in circuit. I’m so proud!!
THE STATIC MIDDLE LATE YEARS
Square dance wise, things continued to move steadily forward I was on staff for the Cleveland and DC conventions … and on the homefront my daughter Erin graduated from High School. (Yes, that’s a big deal!!)
THE PRESENT-DAY LATE LATE YEARS
Now divorced, I am very happily dating the gorgeous young Chi-Town member, Kathy Zottmann. And I'm proud to be a Chi-Town member. My youngest daughter, Callie, will graduate high school in 2011. I’m currently calling 15-20 weekends per year, including staff for Shakedown 2010 and Gone with the Windmill 2011.
A member of Chi-Town's "West Coast Chapter", Allan lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, and commutes to Chicago on an irregular basis to look after family, call for various groups, and dance with Chi-Town. He learned to dance in 1985 with the El Camino Reelers, and his first IAGSDC convention was "Stars Thars & Cable Cars" in San Francisco in 1996. Since then, Allan's never missed an IAGSDC convention, and received his 10-year medallion at the 2005 "Star Thru The Silicon Galaxy" in Santa Clara, California.
In 1997, Allan attended his first GCA Caller School, at which he was scared to death. Since then, he's attended seven or eight caller schools (some GCA, some not), and he's no longer scared to death of calling.
Allan calls Basic through C1, and has called club nights and dances for a number of Bay Area clubs on an irregular basis for many years, including El Camino Reelers, Western Star Dancers, Foggy City Squares, and Midnight Squares. Allan was thrilled to be asked to call a holiday dance for Chi-Town, has performed at numerous Chi-Town fly-ins and chili dances, and has called for American Squares in Homewood, IL.
Over the years, Allan has developed a popular interactive style and mic presence. While he's best known for Advanced & Challenge 1 calling, he enjoys calling all levels.
Although Allan had danced with Chi-Town sporadically during Chicago visits, in 2001 his father passed away, and Allan was so touched by the support of all of the Chi-towners that he became a full club member that very year.
Profesionally, Allan is a partner in a Silicon Valley computer network design and consulting company. He lives in Sunnyvale, California, with his husband Randy (who he married during a Squares Across The Border fly-in in Vancouver BC in 2003), a desert tortoise, and a box turtle.
For five years, Allan was the Editor of The Call Sheet, the professional journal of the Gay Callers Association. During his tenure as The Call Sheet Editor, he worked to bring the GLBT and straight calling communities closer together. Currently, he's working to preserve IAGSDC square dance history. He digitally restored and recreated the book "TEN YEARS IAGSDC: A Collection of Pages From Our Memory Book", making the completed e-book available online free of charge. In 2010, Allan brought up the IAGSDC History Wiki, an online repository of historical documents, interviews, and information, and is preparing to kick off the IAGSDC Oral History Project.
Arlene enrolled in the Chi-Town Squares BMP class in September of 2002. She claims she came to the first class because she was tired of having Chi-Town Squares members ask her when she would FINALLY join her partner (Kate Reed) on the dance floor. After a couple of tips she was been dancing ever since.
Arlene called her first tip for Chi-Town Squares at the club's chili dance in January of 2006. She decided to test the water before committing to attend a caller school. She commented that the most important thing she discovered that day was that it was a lot of fun watching several squares of dancers move in unison to the music and the calls. She also mentioned that the second most important thing she learned that day was to hold the microphone so that you don't hit the reset button in the middle of a singing call!
Arlene attended GCA caller school is 2006, 2007 and 2008. In September of 2006 she was invited to assist Saundra Bryant with the Chi-Town Squares BMP class and she has been helping out ever since. She conducted a 30 minute review each week to help students review the previous week's calls. She also helps answer student questions, and fills in as needed.
Arlene feels fortunate to have had several opportunities to call. In addition to calling at Chi-Town Squares dances, she has also called guest tips at Crossfire. In addition, she has called guest tips at the past 6 IAGSDC conventions, MCASD regional dances, and the Illinois State Convention. She has called dances for Arlington Squares, Glenview Squares, Gateway Squares and has also called for fun nights at private parties.
I've been dancing for quite a while. I learned Plus while I was still in high school, with the Wilmette club, "Fascinating Singles." Classes at that club went fast. Each year we had two complete BMP classes, one January to May, and the other August to December. Although they folded years ago, I still have fond memories.
I only danced occasionally as an undergraduate in upstate New York, and although I returned to Chicago for graduate school in 1991, I barely danced for the next few years. But then at the Gay Pride parade in 1994, I marched with other graduate students, and, by chance, we were just in front of Chi-Town Squares. I was bleeding slightly from a cut in my forehead, because on the way to the parade I had walked into a light post. Yes, a light post. People in Chi-Town squares wondered out loud whether they really wanted to dance with such a klutz. But then, first impressions aren't everything.
With Chi-Town Squares, I learned Advanced from Lin Jarvis in one of his last Advanced classes. (Soon after, John Oldfield began to teach Advanced, and Lin taught only the BMP class.) Before I knew it, I was learning the challenge levels. For about four years, I was in one of Sandie Bryant's weekly workshops, in which I learned C3A and C3B. I did leave the workshop for a time, though, when I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya.
Becoming a caller had interested me for years-I actually signed up for caller school in 1995, but didn't go through with it. Even so, Lin Jarvis let me do two guest tips, a singing call (in 1996) and a full tip at Chi-Town's Halloween dance in 2001. In January 2002, I began calling the review for Lin's BMP class, and things took off from there. Most years through 2006 I continued to call review sessions for Chi-Town's Advanced or C-1 classes.
I moved from calling occasional tips to full dances. Locally I have called for Chi-Town Squares, Recyclers, and Cloverleafs, and outside Chicago for Kansas City's Sho-Me Squares and Saint Louis' Gateway Squares. I have also conducted many review and workshop dances. By vocation a teacher, I enjoyed teaching a fourteen-week Advanced level crash course in 2002 for a group of eight courageous Plus dancers. I have annually attended caller schools of the Gay Callers Association since 2002, except 2005. I am a full member of Callerlab, the international association of square dance callers, and a member of the Gay Callers Association.
My big interest other than square dancing is mathematics. I teach math at Truman College, one of the City Colleges of Chicago. For some square dancers like me, mathematics and square dancing are pretty much the same thing. If you see me talking excitedly about something, it could be about a new square dance call or bit of choreography, or it could be about a lecture on infinitesimal calculus or a book on topology.
But square dancing has one major advantage over mathematics: it's all about a group of people having fun together.
One Sunday afternoon we strolled into a bar to learn to two step but we were all there at the wrong, but right, time.
They were actually ready to square dance. There were five of them and three of us, and as square dancers do, they dragged us into a square!
Lessons started about a month later, so we went.
Lin Jarvis made the mistake of offering me a microphone (um, not his), and I performed (badly) my first singing call.
Several years later, after several schools, I am teaching and calling basic, through c-2.
So, I keep involved. I was vice president of GCA (Gay Callers Association) and ran the Caller’s school. I was president of GCA for a couple terms.
I sit on the board of All Join Hands Foundation which promotes GLBTQ square dancing. This is very important to me. We make Gay Square dancing possible through funds that are available. You provide the inspiration, and the perspiration, then apply for funds. We do that!
Most importantly, I am there for the dancers as a teacher, coach and “the other hand”.
Lost? come up for hug! Callers and teachers are completely here for you, the dancer.