It’s time to spit-shine the cowboy boots, bust out the belt buckle and show some love to your flannel because the Western Hoedown takes place this Wednesday, Sept. 13. The event will begin with supper at 5:30 p.m. on the campus Green, followed by square dancing at 6:15 p.m.
The Western Hoedown is a campus-wide event hosted by the Student Activities Council. Each fall, students mosey on over to the Green to learn how to square- or line-dance at the instruction of a square dance caller. No formal dress code is required; however, all cow-folk attire is welcomed.
For those less-inclined to bust a move, there are several other options to join in on a bit of country fun. The event will also feature yard games, a photo booth and a new addition—a petting zoo.
As if cute, cuddly critters were not reason enough to take a study break, students also find that the annual event is a great opportunity to meet people around campus, learn a new skill and, as SAC member Izzy Glover put it, “have a wild west good time!”
Senior Jen Te Grotenhuis, who has faithfully attended the Western Hoedown every year of her college career, credited the event as a chance to “let loose.” She explained that the event, which includes a little silliness, creates a “genuine way to get to know people early in the year.”
Senior Clayton Ehlers is a three-year participant and long-time fan of the Western Hoedown. For Ehlers, square dancing provides the chance not only to see new faces, but also to “see people step out of their comfort zone…together.”
Both seniors hope to round out their last year at Northwestern with a final whirl around the Western Hoedown, but newcomers to the event need not worry about keeping up with these seasoned pros.
“It’s not difficult to learn,” Ehlers said, especially because of the instructors who have kept NW in step the past few years. Ehlers simply described the callers as “the best” and “very cute.”
Te Grotenhuis also encouraged students still unsure of whether to show up that “no prior knowledge is needed” and there are “good teachers” available.
Elaine Peacock is the returning instructor and square dance caller this year. When she is not teaching NW students their steps, Peacock travels the Midwest as a square dance instructor, entertainer and singer.
In reminiscing on their early experiences at the Western Hoedown, Te Grotenhuis and Ehlers recalled slightly-terrible but memorable moments. Picture an enthusiastic Ehlers breaking his dance partner Marissa Wiese’s shoe, or Te Grotenhuis battling a swarm of tiny, merciless black bugs with her fellow Hoedown-goers, and you can almost guarantee your less-graceful moves will not beat that image.
Additional perks and words of wisdom from a couple of Western Hoedown-veterans: “You’re not breaking the October rule if you dance with a girl at the Hoedown,” Ehlers directed the freshman. And to all on-the-fence two-steppers, Te Grotenhuis challenged, “Go big or go home. But still come. Don’t go home.”