The Cheltenham Square Dancing group was formed in 1957 at the instigation of Frank and Sylvia Lewis who were from the USA but resident in Cheltenham. The first meeting was at Frank’s house in Pittville, with three other couples, one of which was also from USA. As attendances grew, it became necessary to meet at the other American couple’s home in Old bath Road, which could accommodate three squares.
Around 1961 the group moved to a room behind what is now the Playhouse Theatre, then in 1964 to the canteen at GCHQ (where many of the members were employed).
In 1964, the group were accepted into membership of the British Association of American Square Dancing as the Swinging Squares (Cheltenham) - later generally known as ‘Cheltenham Swinging Squares’.
By the ‘70s the club had left the GCHQ Benhall site (mainly due to a GCHQ stipulation regarding the proportion of members who had to be with GCHQ) and used a number of halls including Co-op halls, Iron Trades Hall, ending up at Holy Apostles Church Hall which has now been our home for nearly 30 years.
Membership grew during the late 70’s / early ‘80s to a peak of 152 in 1983 and is now around the 80 mark.
The Club enjoyed the services of a number of callers in its early years - Ed Ridder prior to 1964, followed by fellow American Phill Hall. Around 1965 Terry Langhorne took over, then Colin Pett followed in 1972 and has been with the Club ever since, despite moving home from Cheltenham to Bristol.