A Brief History Of A Long Square Dance Career
Wes and Dorothy Mohling started square dancing in 1952. They joined a group of friends and neighbors that were dancing to records. Wes tried a little calling at this time by explaining and instructing the calls on the records. They then joined two clubs in Hastings, the Wagonwheelers and the Squarenaders. Square dancing had started to become a part of their life.
In the mid 1950's, Wes and Dorothy began to sponsor a Rural Youth group. They continued to sponsor that group for more than 18 years. Rural Youth was a young people's group consisting of people from 18 to 40 years of age. They met twice a month, and square dancing was a regular part of their program. This was where Wes really got his start as a square dance caller. He called for the Rural Youth groups many times statewide, and did a number of their mid-winter parties. It led to him doing guest tips for some of the square dance clubs around the area.
As with many callers of that time, Wes never attended a caller's school. He learned by listening to other caller's achievements and mistakes. Many callers also listened to the Set's In Order premium albums put out each year by the "Set's In Order" magazine. This let them hear how some of the country's top callers sounded, and how they used the choreography of that time.
Wes started calling professionally when a club was organized in Giltner in 1957. He was asked to be their club caller. At the same time, he was asked to become the alternate caller for the Western Drifters Club in Grand Island. Wes and Dorothy established the Westernaires Square Dance Club in 1964. The club is still active today, and Wes continues to be their club caller. Over the years, Wes has been the club caller for numerous clubs in the area including, Hastings, Grand Island, Sutton, Giltner, Fairfield, Shickley, Blue Hill, Burr Oak, KS, and has traveled extensively in Nebraska and northern Kansas. Since 2001 he has been the alternate caller for the Circle B club of Grand Island.
Wes has often called for church and youth camping groups. He has spent more than 30 years calling for the Girl Scouts and their dads. He has also called square dances for the high school proms of the Association of Home Schooled Children, and even a wedding reception. Wes has given square dance lessons every year since the late 1950's.
Wes and Dorothy have been instrumental in assuming a leadership role for square dancing in Nebraska. In the early 1960's, they were a part of the leadership group that established the Nebraska State Square and Round Dance Association, and the creation of the various Federations around the state. During the early 1960's, they held the office of the Central Area Representative, and were also Vice Presidents of the Nebraska State and Round Dance Association. Wes and Dorothy were selected General Chairman of Nebraska's first state convention held in Hastings in 1971.
They are past members of Legacy, a former national leadership organization, and helped to establish the Prairie Conclave, which is the only remaining leadership seminar of its kind in the United States. They were directors of that organization for two sessions. Wes and Dorothy were in charge of the youth hall at the 17th National Convention held in Omaha in 1968. Wes has been a member of CALLERLAB since 1978, and a member of the Nebraska Square Dance Callers and Cuers Association.
Wes and Dorothy have a number of other credits to their list of accomplishments. In 1964, Wes hosted a weekly Sunday afternoon TV program of square dancing on KHAS-TV. It was broadcast for a period of several weeks, and included many of the area clubs and callers. In association with Bill and Phyllis Speidel of Lincoln, they co-hosted the Halsey Fun Weekends held in the Halsey National Forest, in Halsey, Nebraska. The weekend was done twice yearly 1969 through 1995, and is Nebraska's longest running square dance event, continuing for 51 weekends!!!
Another highlight in their square dance life came in 2002, when Wes and Dorothy accompanied 24 dancers to Mexico City as their caller. It was Mexico's annual world wide Folklore Summit Dance Festival, and included dance groups from Italy, Israel, Cuba, and many other nations.
Over the years, Wes and Dorothy have hosted many traveling callers in their home. They have also shared their home with dancers, hosting square dancing in their basement. Dorothy has been an important part of Wes's calling career all through the years, and has kept track of all his calling dates and schedule.
They have one son, Steve, grandchildren and great grandchildren. They have, and continue to cherish the many friendships with square dancers from all over Nebraska, Northern Kansas, Colorado, Iowa, and South Dakota. Wes, with Dorothy by his side has enjoyed a wonderful career.