Whirl & Twirl History
Organized in June 1962, Whirl & Twirl was formed from two clubs - the Elk's Twirlers, Joe Curtis caller, and the Whirlaways, Joe Johnson caller. The clubs were sponsored by the Orlando and Winter Park Recreation Departments.
In the December 1962 issue of the Bow & Swing it was announced that Whirl & Twirl would be holding intermediate level dances at the Robert E. Lee Junior High School with Joe Curtis calling. As "New kids on the block" the club was competing with more established clubs such as the Windermere Squares, the Firehouse Squares, the Carriage Sets and the Pioneers. But a short time later Joe Johnson took over the calling. The club had gained some notoriety and put on a square dance demonstration at the Central Florida Fair. Just a little over a year old and kicking up its heels, Whirl & Twirl was headed BIG TIME!
December 1963 saw a big change at Whirl & Twirl. Out of the hills of West (by God) Virginia, by way of rural Georgia, came a mere slip of a youth - Danny Robinson. Under Danny's calling the club really took off.
In 1965, Danny started the Tenderfoot / Bigfoot concept and began dancing on Wednesday and Friday nights. This format continues today. By 1967, no longer sponsored by the recreation departments, the club wandered from hall to hall, leading a nomadic existence for about two years. Finally in August 1969, the club settled into Gardens where we spent the next fifteen years.
In 1970, at Danny's suggestion, Pete and Jan Shankle formed their first formal round dance class. Pete and Jan had been providing informal classes since 1969. Rounds continued under Pete and Jan until 1975 when Dick and Darlene Nordine stepped in and became the club cuers. In 1987, after Dick accepted an overseas job with the US Government, Roy Brown began playing some of Dick's tapes. After awhile the tapes got old. and the dancers became bored with doing the same dances. Immediately following one of Dick's taped round dances Danny, thinking Roy would be a good cuer, made an announcement, "Be sure and be here next Friday night as Roy Brown is going to try cueing a round live, not on tape, he's going to learn to cue rounds himself." So in January 1988 Roy Brown became Whirl & Twirl's own home grown cuer.
Because of a management change in 1983 Gardens would not renew the club's lease so a great search was undertaken to find a new location. In October 1984, a vacant, non-air-conditioned, bare and dirty warehouse was found. A giant renovation and relocation effort was put forth and, on the appointed weekend, a great motorcade descended on Gardens. In less than one day the club's assets were moved lock, stock, and wagon wheels. Through great determination and perseverance (and an extra helping of pride) not one regular dance date was missed. Soon, with a great many contributions and hard work, a new dance facility was born: THE HANGING MOSS SQUARE DANCE CENTER. Good times, great fellowship and outstanding dances soon gave Whirl & Twirl the reputation we enjoy today as being one real fine place to square and round dance.
For many years it had been the dream of Whirl & Twirl to own its own dance facility and several attempts were made to get something started. Armed with our past experiences and this dream a building fund was established and nurtured over the years. After a long hard search and a lot of hard work our dream finally became a reality.
On January 15, 1995 we celebrated the grand opening of our new dance facility - THE WHIRL AND TWIRL SQUARE AND ROUND DANCE CENTER. From the paneled walls to the floating wood floor the building was designed by square and round dancers for square and round dancers. One to create a unique dancing experience and one that will encourage you to come back time after time.
On September 17, 2004 Roy Brown retired as club cuer after 17 years of providing round dance enjoyment for the Whirl & Twirl dancers. We were all sorry to see him go. The club continued on with guest cuers until the first of March 2005 when Pete & Jan Shankle returned as club cuers after 23 years.
On February 24, 2006 Danny Robinson, our beloved caller who 'Served With A Noble Grace' for 42 1/2 years, died.
On July 1, 2006, Paul Place was named Club Caller. We were very proud that Paul agreed to join the Whirl & Twirl family, and he kept the club vibrant and exciting, throughout the 2 years he was with us. Paul died on August 19th, 2008, and Whit Brown, who is a great caller, joined our family.
In June 2012, we proudly celebrated 50 years that our club has been in existence. Our history has been long and colorful. We are proud of our reputation for providing good fellowship and outstanding calling and cueing.
In 2018, our membership was unable to sustain the maintenance and ownership obligations of our beloved dance hall. We were able to sell the building in order that our club could continue. We are very fortunate to find a new home at the Back Room at the Crystal Ballroom, where we continue to dance, hold classes and welcome guests.
Know what? Whirl & Twirl is one fine square and round dance club. Aren't you glad you're a member?