Our History

The Chi-Town Squares was formed as a club in 1986/87 by  Jerry Cohen and Ron Goodman. Jerry Cohen was a well known leader in Chicago's gay community and helped start many organizations. Ron Goodman was a DJ in various dance bars around the city, working at CAROL'S SPEAKEASY on Wells St. at that time.

First graduating class: 1988

Read our Tenth Anniversary Poem

Ron had learned to square dance in Seattle before he moved to Chicago. David Boyer, manager of CAROL'S at the time, heard of Jerry's wish to start a square dance club which he relayed to Ron. With that, CAROL'S, the last grand disco palace in Chicago, became the first meeting place of the Chi-Town Squares.

After advertising in the local gay newspapers, about thirty students formed the first class in September, 1987. Classes were held at the Wellington Avenue Church at Wellington and Broadway. A live caller was hired to teach the BMP class (basic through plus calls) the first year. A delegation from the club went to the 1988 IAGSDC (International Association of Gay Square Dance Clubs) convention, Cross Trails in the Desert, in Phoenix where they were officially accepted into the association.

Chi-Town Squares has continued to grow in numbers, quality of dancing and as hosts for dances ever since. In September 1989, the club hosted its first fly-in, The Great Chicago Crossfire. That fall, the club started its first advanced level class. That fall also marked the landmark year that Lin Jarvis joined the club to teach the basic level class. Lin taught all them and advanced classes for many years. He and his wife Barb became very big supporters of the club and help us gain acceptance in the straight square dance community.

John Oldfield, our own Club Caller, took over teaching the Advanced classes for many years.  In the fall of 1995 the club offered its first Challenge Level class taught by Saundra (Sandie) Bryant. Saundra is a very well-known international square dance caller and also big supporter of the club. Our present home is Ebenezer Lutheran Church, 1640 W. Foster Avenue in Chicago. Most dances and all classes are held there. Our current callers are Saundra Bryant, Arlene Kaspik, Michael Maltenfort, John Oldfield, Bobby Poyner, and Therron Ricks.