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Spartan Spinner History

From the beginning:

In 1970 an article by Richard Crouch appeared in the Spartanburg paper requesting that people interested in Western Square Dance meet at Woodland Heights Recreation Center (now called Woodland Heights Elementary School). The three couples who responded were Chuck & Eleanor Neely, Al & Dot Hagerty and Mrs. & Mrs. Crouch. A second meeting was scheduled.
A group from the Covenant Presbyterian Church had been dancing in the basement of Ruff & Ann Campbell's house. This group included June & Ed Reynolds, Velma & Bill Brown, Ed & Mary Overcash, Ruff & Ann Campbell and Al & Bea Martin. When they read in the paper that another meeting was scheduled, they attended and were able to observe square dancing in western style outfits demonstrated by Karl & Imogene Thomas, Chuck & Eleanor Neely, Ruff & Ann Campbell and Bill & Joan Schuermeyer.
Bud Plemmons, a caller from Greenville, was there to discuss forming a class to teach this method of square dance. At this meeting, it was decided to proceed with the first class. This class graduated in 1971.
Several women in the group drove to Charlotte, N. C. to purchase square dance clothing.
The Spartan Spinners Square Dance Club was formally formed on April 9, 1972 but we celebrate 1971 as our inception because that was when the first class graduated.

Footnote 1

Bud Plemmons continued to call for the Spartan Spinners right up until the time that Jerry Biggerstaff took over as caller. Bud's square dance moves were limited and the club members wanted to progress so they could go to other clubs and dance well. They wanted to bring in a caller who could teach them more moves; when Bud heard this, he quit. You will have to remember that in the early 70s, Callerlab had not broken down the calls yet into Basic, Mainstream, Plus, Advanced and Challenge.

Footnote 2

On the first Saturday of March 1974, Jerry Biggerstaff called his first dance for the Spartan Spinners . He continued to call for them until 1994.

Footnote 3

 Karl and his wife Imogene had danced in Tennessee before they moved to Spartanburg in 1968. There was no club in Spartanburg at the time so they danced in Greer with the Peach Blossoms SDC. Imogene wanted Karl to start a club in Spartanburg and when they met Al Martin at a dance (he was a radio announcer) and Richard Crouch who was a newspaper reporter, they had their chance for publicity and one thing led to another. From the dream of one couple the actions were started to begin the Spartan Spinners. Karl missed the first meeting but was at the second demonstrating and was one of the Charter members of the club. They needed a caller so someone suggested Bud Plemmons so the wheels were in motion for their first class which was formed in 1970. A week or 2 before the class graduated in 1971, they officially started the club since they wanted the class to be part of it. Imogene was given the job of naming the club so she picked Spartan for the town of Spartanburg where they were dancing and Spinners for the many members who were textile workers. At that time, the textile workers were called spinners. The logo designed by Karl had the words Spartan Spinners in a Spinning top, and their club colors at that time were red and white.
The club had Woodland Heights as their hall due to the influence of one of their members who worked for the recreation department. They were able to use the auditorium for Tuesday night round dance lessons and Thursday nights for their square dance lessons, as well as the first and third Saturday nights for their regular club dances. After couples were graduated from square dance lessons, the Thursday nights were turned into workshops for class and club and continued year round.
Don Williamson (who was one of the Red Boot Boys) called for their first anniversary dance in 1972.
Their first cuer for rounds was Bill Martin. At one time, Virginia MacAbee also cued for a short time and then Helen Remee cued right into the 1980s for them.
Karl mentioned that at one time they had a roster of 120 couple members. He still has one of the rosters from the year 1981 (when they moved back to Tennessee) with 58 member couples on it. Back then as in most clubs across the country, it was a couples only club.

Footnote 4

In 1995, Tom Pustinger started calling for the Spartan Spinners. Some nights, there wouldn't be enough dancers to fill one square so they'd all pack up and join the Tec Sets SDC which was having the same attendance problem. Some nights the Tec Sets would join the Spinners at their hall. Eventually, attendance started to go up and the club started to prosper once again.
From Betty: The Spartan Spinners lost the use of the Woodland Heights gym when the city turned the building back over to the school system. When they renovated in 2008, they made changes so there can not be dances with food and the people using the floor have to remove their shoes. They did provide a small room for a few hours on Thursday nights for the class. W. C. Bain and a few other club members started looking for halls when they first heard this and while they moved from one location to the next, W. C. Bain arranged with the Holy Communion Lutheran Church to give us a try at their Gillepsie Center Recreation Hall where we now dance on the first and third Saturday of the month (unless the church needs the hall for something else). St. James Church is an alternate location that we can generally use when we can't get the other church. 2008 and 2009 found us alternating between the Gillepsie Center at the Holy Communion Lutheran Church and St. James United Methodist Church with dances. By the end of 2009, we had pretty much settled into dancing at Gillepsie Center but still had to use St. James occasionally.
I just checked our April 2013 roster and the Spartan Spinners now have 22 member singles and 17 member couples. No wonder we are hearing of so many engagements and marriages in the square dance world. Dancing in our club we have 3 of the original couples from either the first or second class. They are Harry & Peggy Brady, Bob Auman and our Honorary Members, Vera & Carol Gault who are in their 90s. The club color is now purple and as you can see from our roster, we are no longer considered a "couple club". I'm hoping to see our 50th anniversary party in the year 2021 and I am also hoping I'll still be able to dance at that party.
As a member you will be required to help out at dances where needed and to spend at least 2 dances per year on the Refreshment committee. Our club members are great about pitching in and helping at all the dances.
Being a member also means you get to participate in other ventures and dinners the club provides, and all members get to dance free on class nights.
The refreshments at our dances are provided by the members. It can be store bought or homemade. Some of the best cooks I've met over the years are square dancers.

Footnote 5


Sources for each are as follows:

Footnote 1: 1986: Mary Overcash gave this information to Bessie Clark.
Footnote 2: 2013 Peggy Brady (a member of the second class) , as told to Betty Card.
Footnote 3: 2013 Jerry Biggerstaff provided this information to Betty Card.
Footnote 4: 2013 Information from Karl Thomas as told to Betty Card.
Footnote 5: 2013 Information supplied to Betty Card by Nancy Pustinger.

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