More than just ‘swinging thru’

By on October 1, 2014

Kreiters celebrate 40 years of square dancing

Square dancing at Bonfield Elementary. (photos by Laurie Knowles Callanan)

Square dancing at Bonfield Elementary. (photos by Laurie Knowles Callanan)

Back in 1971, Doris and Dave Kreiter decided to take a spin on the square dance floor.

They haven’t stopped do-si-do-ing since.

Doris and Dave Kreiter have been square dancing since the Richard Nixon presidency. (photo by Laurie Knowles Callanan)

Doris and Dave Kreiter have been square dancing since the Richard Nixon presidency.

The Lititz couple were honored at a special celebration at John R. Bonfield Elementary School Sept. 26 for their 40 years of sharing their love of square dancing with others.

“Dave and Doris founded the Swing Thru Dance Club here in Lititz in 1974,” said club president Jim Miller. “And we want to thank them for faithfully operating, teaching and directing the club for 40 years.”

There was even ice cream.

“We are very honored,” said Doris. “We plan to keep square dancing as long as we can walk.”

Dave said he plans to keep calling square dances as long as he can talk. Or sing.

In some of the dances he calls, it is more of a “talk” as he guides the dancers through moves like allemande left, circle left, teacup chain, promenade, pass thru, half sashay and two ladies chain. In other dances, Kreiter does his calling in a sing-song voice that sounds a lot like country western singing.

When they first started, Doris said, they would go to a dance barn near the Lancaster Stockyards. The only thing they didn’t like was that a few of the square dancers drank a bit more than they should.

“You can’t really remember the steps and do a good job,” said Doris, who wanted a more wholesome setting for square dancing.

They saw it as more of a family thing, where people of all ages, including children and teens, could participate. Eventually, the Kreiters started the Swing Thru Dance Club with the aim of making it fun for the entire family.

To get started, the Kreiters took lessons and attended introductory square dances. Then they got more serious. In 1974, they attended a callers college in Harrisonburg, Va., where Dave learned his art.

At first Doris wasn’t too happy about losing her dancing partner. When Dave was calling, he couldn’t be dancing. It turned out that other men would take turns partnering with the caller’s wife so she could enjoy time on the dance floor.

In 1973, Dave starting teaching square dance classes, graduating 13 dancers in his first year. They needed a place to dance, and that was the start of Swing Thru, which met at the old Lititz Community Center next to Lititz Springs Park.

“Part of the mission of the club is to hold dancer workshop classes to get new dancers,” he said.

Those new dancers need a place to dance, and so it goes. The Swing Thru club holds dances on the fourth Friday of each month, except in the months of November, May and June, when they dance on the third Friday. Most of their Friday dances are held at the John R. Bonfield Elementary School’s spacious all-purpose gymnasium. That gives everyone plenty of room to spin and circle and sashay.

Most of the dancers are older, but the club is attracting some younger members. Two of them are just nine years old. Twins Zayne and Wayne Trostle have been attending club get-togethers with their parents since they were seven. The only problem is finding partners who aren’t too tall.

Their sister Katie, 21, and brother Nathaniel, 13, also enjoy square dancing. It’s family fun that keeps them moving and they enjoy learning new dance moves. Paula Luther, also 21, got started when she was 10, and took lessons.

Square dancing is fun for all ages. (Back, left to right) Paula Luther, Nathaniel Trostle, Katie Trostle, (front, l-r) Zayne and Wayne Trostle.

Square dancing is fun for all ages. (Back, left to right) Paula Luther, Nathaniel Trostle, Katie Trostle, (front, l-r) Zayne and Wayne Trostle.

“This is something I always want to do. It’s a lot of fun,” said Luther.

Doris noted that square dancing is a great activity for people of all ages. As a lifetime past-time, people can square dance into their 80s. It provides an enjoyable cardiac workout, and memorizing the dance steps keeps the memory strong. A few dances can get a little tricky.

“It looks like we’re having a little trouble with the swing thru,” said Dave, with a smile, after many of the dancers got mixed up on whether to go right or left. “Let’s try that again.”

Both Lititz area natives, Dave grew up in Rothsville while Doris was born in Lexington at the United Zion Home, where her parents worked. For many years, Dave was parts manager at Zartman Dodge, and Doris was cafeteria manager at Warwick High School. After they retired, the Kreiters were able to dedicate even more time to their beloved square dancing.

Dave often calls at square dance demonstrations at local events and retirement communities, and he has called at competitions at the Pennsylvania Farm Show. He also calls for a variety celebrations such as birthdays, anniversaries and church parties, and he has called for at least five weddings during his career.

The Kreiters have also been involved in classes at area campgrounds like Spring Gulch and Hickory Run. The enthusiasm has been so great that people have been known to dance into the wee hours.

“Through square dancing and the Swing Thru Dance Club, we have met lifelong friends who share our passion for square dancing,” said Doris.

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