Get ready to swing your partner and have some old-fashioned fun at the Tatanka Barn Dance.
All ages are invited to get out on the floor for Custer State Park’s first barn dance on Aug. 14. Katie Lautenschlager of Rapid City will teach basic styles of square dancing and dance steps, as well as circle and line dancing.
“I instruct everyone on the different steps and start the music and help people work through it, and everybody always has a good time,” Lautenschlager said. “Square dancing is fun because it’s an easier type of dancing in that you just have to learn the calls and what they mean and remember your right and left hands.”
Circle and line dances are group dances that are easy to learn and fun for adults and kids, she said. “You get to socialize with a whole group. It’s very upbeat music,” Lautenschlager said. “Whenever I teach, I love to see the smiles on people’s faces. People laugh at their mistakes and there’s lots of good times. The energy of it and the community of it is fun.”
Lautenschlager will teach some authentic dances that were undoubtedly part of barn dances in centuries past. “We’ll do the Virginia reel, a dance that George Washington would have danced. Our other group dance is the patty-cake polka, which was popular in the Civil War,” she said.
Lautenschlager, a violin teacher and Hot Springs native, grew up square dancing. Eventually she started hosting dances for friends. She loves the music, as well as the square dancing itself. Lautenschlager plays in bluegrass and folk bands in the Black Hills, and she performs in the Grand Jamboree variety show on Sunday nights at Buffalo Ridge Theater in Custer.
Admission to the Tatanka Barn Dance is free and open to campers in the park and the public. Get there early because there could be a big crowd. Custer State Park Naturalist Julie Brazell said the park has already been receiving calls and lots of interest in the barn dance. “It’s for anybody who wants to get up and move around,” Brazell said.
The Tatanka Barn Dance is part of Custer State Park’s annual Monday Night Speaker Series at Tatanka Theatre at Game Lodge Campground. Every Monday night through Aug. 28, the series features demonstrations and performances from speakers, actors, singers and more from throughout the Black Hills, South Dakota and the Midwest.
For more information about the Monday Night Speaker Series and other summer events at Custer State Park, go to custerstatepark.com.