Swing your partner…

By on August 14, 2019

After some 45 years calling square dances for the Swing Thru Square Dance Club, Dave Kreiter has finally handed over his microphone.

He is pretty square about his reason.

“I’m gettin’ tired,” says Kreiter, with a smile.

At 83, the Rothsville native who now lives in Lititz with his wife Doris, just doesn’t have quite enough energy to do his lively square dance calling anymore. After all, it takes strong, powerful voice to guide square dancers as they dosie-do and promenade around the dance floor.

Kreiter is more than happy to give the Swing Thru club a change of partners. Now making the calls for the club is Dan Koft, with his wife Kathy Koft cueing. Other callers include Cameron Harnish,

Joe Bradshaw, Bill Harrison, Howard Richman, Mark Franks, and Dan Prosser.

The Swing Thru Square Dance Club usually meets at the Lancaster Brethren in Christ Church gymnasium on Fruitville Pike each month. They also hold square dance lessons in Lititz at the Wellness Center at Luther Acres Retirement Community.

After 45 years, the Swing Thrus are still going strong, with dancers who range in age from 10 to 90. They all seem to agree that square dancing has lots of benefits, such as boosting memory, improving flexibility, reducing stress, diminishing depression, losing weight, offering a cardio workout, improving balance, and increasing energy.

Most of all, as the Swing Thrus like to say, “Square dancing is friendship set to music.”Jack Stone of the Swing Thru Square Dance Club reports that for him and his wife Patti, square dancing is one of their greatest joys. That and spending time with their beloved grandchildren.

“We each had our own hobbies, but this was something we could do together,” says Stone. “It’s great exercise and it’s creative.”Just then, Koft launched into a square dance with Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.” The music isn’t always what you might expect, with tunes like “Come Sail Away,” “Sugar, Sugar,” “Just the Way You Are,” and even Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA.”

Dave Kreiter (center), long-time caller for the Swing Thru Square Dance Club, hands off the microphone to replacement Dan Koft. Shown (left to right) are Doris and Dave Kreider, and Koft. Photos by Laura Knowles.

Keeping up with modern times, the ladies don’t wear the traditional puffy crinoline square dance anymore. As Stone notes, square dancers prefer relaxed, comfortable clothing so they can move more freely. A few women do like to wear flowy skirts, because, after all, it’s more fun when you twirl.

Cheryl Buesking and her husband John have been square dancing for about two years, starting off with workshop classes. It takes a little while to get in the swing, learning moves like allemande left, allemande right, dosie do, circle left, circle right, teacup chain, promenade, pass thru, half sashay, and two ladies chain.

“When I’m square dancing, I can just turn off from everyday life. I focus on the music, the steps, and pushing everything else out of my mind,” says Cheryl Buesking. “Everyone is always so nice, they say thank you after each dance.”

That’s where the friendship comes in. Some people come with partners, while others are solo. Members of the Swing Thrus make sure everyone has a partner. They get to meet different people of different ages. There are even a few families who join the fun.

The Swing Thru Square Dance Club’s dance-caller Dave Kreiter is hanging it up after 45 years.

Mary Lee and John Gartner make square dancing a family affair with their two daughters, 11-year-old Catherine and 16-year-old Julia. They have been square dancing together for about two years, and the younger family members thoroughly enjoy themselves.

“I like it,” says Catherine. “It’s good exercise, and everyone is nice.”

Sue Hess has been square dancing for some 30 years, after she and her husband John took lessons at the Lititz Community Center years ago. Later, dances were held at John R. Bonfield Elementary School gymnasium.

“You just have to make sure you don’t go left when you’re supposed to go right,” jokes Hess.
Even though Dave Kreiter isn’t calling anymore, he and Doris still enjoy stopping by to spend time with their old square dancing friends. They were, after all, the founders of the Swing Thru Square Dance Club.

It all started in 1971, when the Kreiters went square dancing at a dance barn located near the Lancaster Stockyards. They liked it so much, they ended up starting the Swing Thru club in Lititz three years later, after attending a callers college in Harrisonburg, Va., where Dave learned the art of square dance calling.

It is an art, he notes. He developed his own style, with a lively, sing-song voice that made it fun for the dancers as he guided them around the dance floor.

The Kreiters are both Lititz area natives. Dave grew up in Rothsville and Doris was born in Lexington. After they retired from their jobs- Dave as parts manager at Zartman Dodge and Doris as cafeteria manager at Warwick High School- the were able to dedicate their time to square dancing.

Now that Dave Kreiter has retired as caller for the Swing Thru Square Dance Club, he looks back fondly on the many years and many friendships they have shared.

“It’s been a great experience, and we are happy to see it continue with new, younger people,” says Dave Kreiter.

The Swing Thru Square Dance Club is offering Square Dance Lessons for beginners and those who want to brush up on their dosie-dos. The first night is free, with two introductory nights on

Thursday, Sept, 12 and 19, at 7 p.m. at Luther Acres Wellness Center. Classes begin Thursday, Oct. 3 at 7 p.m., also at Luther Acres Wellness Center. To find out more, call or text 717-314-7570.

Laura Knowles is a freelance feature writer and regular contributor to the pages of the Record Express. She welcomes feedback and story tips at lknowles21@gmail.com. 

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