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Swing your partner
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If you're up for some good old fashion country music and a few do-sa-dos, the Newton County Hayriders might have something just for you.

The Hayriders are offering a free square dance lesson Monday to anyone looking for an entertaining way to lose a few pounds and meet a few new friends.

"It's just some nice clean family fun," said Mary Jane Howard, a Hayrider.

The Hayriders' hold the class twice a year and each class lasts 20 weeks. The class meets at the First Presbyterian Church every Monday night at 7 p.m. and anyone age 10 and older is allowed in to take part.

The first two nights of the class are free, but after that dancers must pay a $60 fee for the remaining lessons. Beginners can also purchase a name tag for $10.

The dance steps are called out by John Gibson, who has been a fan of the dance since 1951. He said the first couple of classes just introduced people to a few beginner moves.

"Well, some people call them advanced," Gibson said. "But, not really, anybody can do it."

Each dancer is part of a square and each square has four pairs of men and women. Two of the couples are the head couples while two are the side couples.

While the music plays, Gibson rhythmically calls out directions to the dancers. Each square must work as a cohesive unit to prefect the dance.

Gibson said the class focused on the "Hoe Down" style of square dancing, but he does occasionally expose participants to the "Sing and Call" version of the dance.

The dance itself includes men moving in sync around a circle while promenading there partner; men and women moving in opposite directions around the square while changing partners; and do-si-doing, which has four members at a time enter the middle of the square, walk past each other, step to their right and walk backward on the opposite side of the person they just passed.

"They really just learn the basics in the class," Gibson said. "It's not until they go out and dance at the clubs that they really get into advanced stuff."

According to the Web site, square dancing can be traced hundreds of years ago to England and Scotland. Modern square dancing began with the Morris dance in England, where six trained men participated.

Square dancing is the official dance of Georgia, Gibson said.

For some, square dancing can become more than just a fun hobby. There are Web sites for a variety of square dancing related activities which go beyond normal conventions. One site even dictates square dancing wedding vows.

There are several clubs that graduates of the class can frequent. The second and fourth Friday of every month, the Newton Hayriders dance at the Cousins Middle School among other places.

Anyone interested can call Howard at (706) 468-0166 or Edna Sutherland at (770) 786-1024.