When in 1961 I went from my hometown Reutlingen to Hannover (yes, I took a sabbatical of three months and went all the way on foot), I was aware that I should meet some more people besides the new colleagues. To play the nighthawk in bars is not my style. So I looked up the Adult Education catalogue for something suitable, e.g. a language course. There I found "Folk Dancing for Beginners, 8 Evenings, 10 DMark". At home I never ventured into Folk Dancing, because you had to join a club or association, and I thoght it was Shoeplattler. That is funny to watch, but I certainly did not want to do it myself. Now with Adult Education, I saw no risk. 8 evenings would pass, 10 DMark would not take the butter from my bread, and in the North, it could not be Shoeplattler? If I had known how these 10 DMark would change my life, I might have hesitated. It was obvious from the start that this was not all newcomers, but rather an existing group. However, in dancing school I had learned to waltz passably, and got along nicely. And since - as in most cases - more females than males found their way into that dance group, the leader Lilo Pieper asked me urgently, to return to the next course.
Two years later, the Adult Education transfered all cultural activities to the Freizeitheim (kind of Grange Hall?) of the City of Hannover. Thus we had to find a new name. To show that we did something more modern than traditional Folk Dances, we choose the name of "Square Dance Circle Hannover", because we could do 6 Singing Calls by rot.
Next year, the Piepers left Hannover, because they inherited a house in Hameln. However, they had since long encouraged some participants to learn dances and to collect materials. So we could form a working group to keep the club going. I specialized in square dancing among that working group. By profession I am an engineer, and the systematic and geomety of square dancing appealed to me.
Meanwhile I married, according the motto: Not before 30, never after 30. And sometimes I mused about politics and economy. You may find here my Diary about 1968 - but it is long reading in German language.
Then someone told us there was a magazine SETS IN ORDER devoted to Square Dancing, and you could subscribe to it via Walter Koegler. This I did. March 1969 was the first issue I got. (It had a booklet about One Night Stands bound into it, and somehow this seems now an Omen to me.) Since then, I alway subscribed to SIO, and later to ASD. At that time, the group which later became CALLERLAB began to organize calls into defined programs, and SIO came forth with the yellow "Caller-Teacher Manual for the Basic Program of Square Dancing" from which we got our first idea about Patter Calling. It contained about what is now known as Mainstream 1 ... 35, but at that time was known as the 50-Basics-Program; for the basics were counted individually, not in families.
When a letter from me was published in SIO, the EAASDC learned that there was a Square Dance Circle in Hannover, and the president invited us to the Fall RoundUp 1970 at the Bürgerhaus Mörfelden. I answered that we just had learned the 50-Basics-Program, not very well, and nothing more; yet the invitation was repeated. So we organized a group travel. Immediately we bacame aware that we had no idea, and lots of that. Some hided in the side rooms. I tried to dance every tip at a different corner of the floor, and became the terror of the RoundUp. My excuse is that we really did not know better. At those times, every year a group travelled from the States to the RoundUp. 1 Dollar brought 4 DMark, Germany was affordable for Americans. They brought with them a Caller who called the Workshop and the evening dance. That year it was Johnny LeClair and Dave Taylor, and they raised the roof; even we were aware of it. On the train back home we decided to learn enough of Square Dancing to return next year with a clear conscience. We had met a German caller who came to Hannover for several weekends to teach us the missing movements. When we came to the RoundUp 1971, and I found I could dance with the crowd, I felt like dancing two inches above the floor. Probably you can have this feeling but once in your life; I am glad I had it.
The Square Dance Circle Hannover (who soon was named CLOVERLEAVES) was officially a Trimester Course of the Freizeitheim Linden. Thus now and then new people dropped in. They were shown some basics, and invited to a tip. Then the "Experienced" danced the next tip. Then the newcomers were taught something more, and so on. The dropins returned maybe one more evening, and then dropped out. I thought in my mind about programs how to start a new group with new people, and prayed at night to the Lord for a chance to try these ideas in practice.
When in 1974 the Music School Hannover left the Lister Tower, and this building was converted into a Freizeitheim, I could start there a course "Square Dance for Beginners". We danced at Wednesday Evening. But at the same time Hävemeier und Sander, the company I worked for, was sold to the finnish KONE company. Now and then I was told: "Mr. Fischle, you will fly tomorrow to Finland to attend a meeting." Then I had barely time to phone for a substitute on Wednesday. Therefore I wanted to change to the weekend. But there was no free room at the Lister Tower. My friend Hermann Rappold proposed to move to Hemmingen, a southern suburb of Hannover, where he talked the Youth Counsellor into taking this course into his program.
Half a year later, the aldermen became aware of a caller's fee in the budget they had not decided upon. They were told that this sum was covered by course fees from the participants, but in vain. In "cameralistic" bookkeeping, you cannot relate expenses to income. We found a room at the Don Bosco Church in Hemmingen, and continued on our own. And short before X-Mas 1976 we decided to constitute us as the club "HAPPY SQUARES HANNOVER"
We had decided to limit our club to the Basic Program. Who wanted to learn more, could do so with the Cloverleaves. When in 1978 we asked whether such a "limited" club could become a member of the EAASDC, nothing was found against it in the constitution - and they amended the bylaws immediately, to prevent such a disgrace. But in 1981, CALLERLAB decided to submerge the Basic Program (Circle Left to Box the Gnat) with the Extended Basic Program (up to Ferris Wheel); thus we had to dive into the Ocean Waves in any case.
In 1972, SIO issued Don Armstrong's Contra Dance Manual. With its help, and my experience as a Folk Dancer, I learned to call contras. In 1983, my repertoir had grown large enough to write a bilingual book Leitfaden / A Guide to / Contra Dance with German text (and German calls) on the lefthanded page, and the English counterpart on the righthanded page.
In 1984, I tried to join ECTA as an active member. In those days, you had to pass an evaluation at a jamboree. My calling was not too bad. But in the orals, I was asked about the name of the formation after "Heads lead right, circle to a line." I answered: "Zero Line." - "Wrong, it is 1p2p line." And I could not explain the difference between a true and a technical zero. When moreover I confessed that I taught my classes in German language, and only then called in English, I was told that I should learn more theory and more English, and come back next year. I had the impression that I was not welcome because I had proposed to use German calls under certain circumstances. That was grave heresy in those days.
Instead I asked Paul Hartman, Don Armstrong, and Al Stevens to sign my application for membership in CALLERLAB. I became a member at the convention 1986 at Baltimore. At that same convention, the basic proposals for the Community Dance Program were accepted. You see, there is a CDP since I am a member of CALLERLAB.
The week before the convention, Ted and Jane Sannella hosted me at Boston and showed me the New England Contra Dance Style. And on Saturday, Bob Dalsemer took me to a traditional West Virginia Square Dance at New Creek. These experiences became for me even more important than the Callerlab Convention.
Some weeks after me Gunter Asmus, a young man from Hannover, attended contra dancing in Boston too. We decided to try something of that sort in Hannover. Gunter found a room at Freizeitheim Stöcken which was available every other week at no costs, provided it was an open offer, and no club. Partizipants should pay only at those evenings they danced.
That same year, the Happy Squares decided to learn the full Mainstream Program, to be independent from other clubs. Since with the open contra dances I had an offer again where I could admit new dancers any time, I yielded to that request.
The Square Dance sign in the front garden was a birthday gift from my wife Jutta.
In 1992, a Cowboy Club at Seelze asked me to call Traditional Square Dance for them. But that club was plagued with internal troubles. Several times the experienced people left, and I had to start anew. In the Fall of 1993 I had enough of it. Since the room at Stöcken had become available every Mondy, I now offer there Contra Dance and Traditional/Easy Square Dance in an alternating schedule.
In 1998 it became obvious that the KONE company would stop the production line at Hannover. Thus my job and the designes I had worked would become obsolete. That was depressing. And at the Happy Squares, some people became dissatisfied. For one thing, I can not hide the fact, that I learned my English in the Southern States - in the Southern States of Germany, that is. And I care for the "lower third". I can not bring myself to call on bravely, if three squares out of four are standing, and only one is still dancing. But those who consider themselves as the "top third" did not like this. The board asked me to call only two tips each evening, because my style of calling did damage to the club. I asked for a vote of the club. Immediately before that vote was cast, Reiner Wrede, the other clubcaller, gave notice of his leaving; he had enough of the bickering among the membership. Nevertheless, the majority supported the decision of the board - the acting board, anyhow, because at the recent membership meeting they had failed to elect a new. president. On this, I left that club as well.
The group at Stöcken, which until then was listed as a 2nd club evening of the Happy Squares, now joined the EAASDC under the name of OPEN COUNTRY. (The bylaw amendement of 1978 had been cancelled some years ago.)
May 1998 came a call for help from the Wild Folks Wolfenbüttel, where the caller had left on short notice. At first they tried to finish the running class with 4 callers who each called one evening a month. Later they found a budding caller in the neighborhood who called three evenings a month, with me on the fourth. Yet I have a driving license but no car, and to ride the train two hours each way for two hours of calling is quite bothering - especially the ride back home until after Midnight. So I was quite content when this club decided to rely on their local caller. Anyhow, it was great comfort that this club trusted in me at a time when the Happy Squares wanted to get rid of me.
The Freizeitheim Vahrenwald had been closed because of asbestos for many years. But in 1999 it was
reopened after a complete renovation. I could start there an offer under the same conditiones as in
Stöcken. Only I did not separate Square and Contra Dancing but mixed them. However, in the Fall
of 2000 I had to move to the Meetingpoint Sahlkamp "temporarily", because the hall where we
danced was used for a 3 moths exhibition. But I felt that at Sahlkamp I was needed more than at
Vahrenwald, and made this change permanent.
However I would like to find or found a group where I could teach and call the Mainstream Program,
and in 2001 I still had time to spare on Thursdays.
Someone told me that in the Tiefenriede a room was available that day.
- Yes, but only Thursday Afternoon. - What to do? J. W. Goethe said:
In the Spring of 2004, Bruno Täuber was searching a caller for a square dance group he wanted
to establish at Tündern near Hameln. After I found an airial view of Tündern in the Internet
I accepted. If a local square dance group in such a small village would not succeed, nobody could blame me.
Though I knew since my stint at Wolfenbüttel,
how much stress it is to travel by train, I could not resist. And I dare to say that I am
the only caller far and wide with the necessary abilities for this job.
And yet I wanted a group for the Mainstream Program in Hannover. With some prodding I found 10 people from Open Country who were willing to embark on this task; and when I found a suitable room at the Epiphanias Church in my neighborhood, we started there on June 7, 2006. Four months later we have learned the Basic Program, but are still far from mastering it.
In the previous milennium, I said sometimes that I would stop regular calling at the age of 70. Quite the opposite became true: I stopped irregular calling (twice a month the Happy Squares, every fortnight Contra Dance, all 4 weeks Wolfenbüttel).
On January 27 I slipped on ice under a thin cover of snow, broke my left shoulder, and was
out of business for one week. (The doctors suggested to fix it with a nail; but when I was
laid on the operation table almost two days later, natural healing had begun,
and they would rather not meddle.) First Graduation of the Weser Fun Dancers was scheduled
for February 4. I managed to call again on this day, and they thanked me with warm words.
Since XMas my dear wife Jutta is practically bedridden, and I must do a lot more household chores.
Lunch on wheels we get from the
and for three hours a week we have a
The German Association for Senior Citizen Dancing invited me in 2007 to hold a Contra Dance Seminar at the
International Dance Leader Congress at Willingen. This was recieved very well, and I am requested for
more Seminars. You find the Seminar Reports from a separate page.
In April I could call on 7 consecutive dates:
In October 2009 I became aware of the Begegnungsstätte Vahrenheide and agreed to offer there Open Square Dance too. Half of the inhabitants of that quarter have a migration background. This shows in the participants. They understand German language fairly well, but English is no use.
In February, the Square Couples Langenhagen dismissed the caller for their Mainstream Class.
But this class would rather follow the caller than stay with the club, and attached itself as
an additional evening to Open Country, for which we both now call.
During Advent 2010 we finished with the Mainstream Program. This group will now form the club
Lucky Stars Hannover.
Unfortunately my eyes grew worse, and I had only 10% eyesight. So I agreed to eye surgery early December
and cancelled all dates for the rest of the year.
Since Spring 2010 we cannot use the great hall of the Freizeitheim Stöcken.
The wooden construction of the roof became unsafe. I do not know whether this was the reason -
but I could not attract new partizipants. And the old ones left by and by; partly due to health problems,
partly because they had learned the Mainstream Program and were no longer interested in Open Squaredance.
Since 2011 I call every week
On Mondays I visit sometimes the
SQUARE COUPLES Langenhagen
Thus pass the weeks.
The European Callers & Teachers Association e.V.
In Recognition of Outstanding Service
on the 21st day of June, 2014
Michael Franz, ECTA President
40 Jahre Caller
Wird heute die Ehrenurkunde für seine außerordentliche Arbeit als Caller verliehen.
Hannover, den 6. Dezember 2014
Tanja Hape / Happy Squares
Christoffel-Blindenmission Deutschland e.V.
aus Hannover für
Freundschaft und Hilfe
für blinde und anders behinderte Menschen in den Armutsregionen der Welt.
Since 1994 I donate one quarter of my financial applause to the Christoffel Blindenmission. This is my way to pay taxes therefore; and I am sure it comes more helpful than official development aid.
During the Fall of 2015 I suffered from bleeding from my penis; visited an Urologe,
and got rid of that thing during the Chrittmas Days at the hospital Siloah. But that
was not enough: the lymph glands should be scraped out too. There I suffered a stroke,
and could for two days speak no articuate word.
Published 2003-05-05 / last updated 2016-04-01 / Heiner Fischle, Hannover, Germany