COLUMBIA- The caller directed the circle dance, shouting out over the clapping. A young boy in a green eye mask, a brown felt top hat and a colorful tie loosely slung around his neck hopped about, jumping into a cartwheel.
Children and parents clapped their hands and do-si-doed at the family masquerade, marking the end of the Columbia Public Library’s summer reading program Tuesday night.
Kids and adults alike donned red clown noses, tiger print masks, fake black mustaches, long capes, glitter and feathers.
Jim Thraxton, of Columbia, led the family dancing that included the Galopede, a dance estimated to be between 250 and 300 years old, and the Marching Through Georgia, a square dance that dates back to the Civil War era.
Thraxton, a member of the Mid-Missouri Traditional Dancers, has been professionally calling dances for 17 years and dancing for over 30. Accompanying Thraxton in creating a toe tappin’ atmosphere were Tom Verdot on the fiddle, Thom Howard on the guitar and Sarah Howard on the mandolin.
“Seeing parents and kids dancing, seeing kids and kids dancing and seeing all the smiles” is what Thraxton says is the most fun about these events.
Masquerade organizer Sarah Howard wrote in an e-mail she thought the event was important because “many skills are being worked on during the dance: social skills, learning to take turns, motor skills, remembering left and right, sequencing skills and following directions. Where, of course, Jim as the caller plays a very important role in controlling chaos.”
The masquerade was open to the public, and its main aim was to give families a venue where they could dress up and dance their hearts out to live music. The event was the third family dance at the Columbia Public Library. Last winter the library hosted the Snow Ball.
Krishna Fogle attended the Snow Ball and Tuesday’s masquerade with her children, Kyra, 3½, and Liam, 6, who dressed as an acrobat with a top hat and tie. It was the crowd and the sense of community that made the masquerade special for Fogle.
“The contact with all the people you wouldn’t normally hold hands and dance around with. ... I feel like it’s good for my soul, and my kids love it, too,” she said.