Sierra Hillbillies return to the Senior Center for a ‘Cowboy New Year’

Seniors square dance at the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center's Cowboy New Year Dance at the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center in Newhall Sunday afternoon. Cory Rubin/ The Signal

While some dancers donned their cowboy hats, a variety of tunes played at the Cowboy New Year, hosted by the Sierra Hillbillies Square and Roundup Dance Club, at the SCV Senior Center on Sunday.

Guests swayed from partner to partner as they line- and square-danced under the direction of instructor Dale Hoppers. The “Cowboy New Year” theme served to welcome new dancers to the club.

While there was a country theme, songs typically ranged from classical music to classic rock, including The Beatles’ “Drive My Car.”

Sierra Hillbillies spokeswoman Karen Geller-Shinn said square dancing typically takes place at the Senior Center on the first Sunday of each month, unless impeded by a holiday.

Square and line dancing have an advantage over other forms of activity for seniors, Geller-Shinn said in regards to its appeal.

“It combines mental acuity, physical exercise and what’s called high social capital,” she said. “That means you interact with a lot of people. It has the highest social capital of any kind of dance, because when you go to a square dance, if you’re in a square with different people … you have the opportunity to meet and interact with 48 people or more.”

She added that while square dancing might appear as an “old people’s activity,” she emphasized the mental benefit it offers.

Mike and Mary Schwartz were among the people who stopped by to participate.

“It’s fun. It’s good exercise,” Mike said. “I could exercise or square dance all around the country or around the world.”

The next square dancing event hosted by the Sierra Hillbillies will be the “Super Sunday Tailgate Party,” instructed by Scot and Erin Byars on Feb. 3 at 2 p.m. Admission is free.

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