The History of Saucy Squares in Sebastopol
A Plus Level Club
Saucy Squares was founded in 1962. They originally met in the old Chamber of Commerce building on Petaluma Avenue and Sebastopol Road. It is now a real estate office.
The first caller was Joe Paul. He was a Welder. He had a shop in Sebastopol. He was a gifted singer and musician. He played a banjo and a mouth harp. He danced with Circle and Squares at Monroe Hall in Santa Rosa. He began calling in 1961 for the Mark Westerners. Skip Graham was his mentor. There was no square dance club in western Sonoma County so in 1962 they formed a square dance club of their own and called it The Sebastopol Saucy Squares.
In May of 1971 Joe took his 16′ boat, along with his brother, Elmer, out for a day of fishing on Bodega Bay. They both died due to a boat accident. They said that it was either a freak wave or a whale that capsized the boat. It was a beautiful calm day at Bodega Bay.
The club went dormant due to grief after the loss of their caller. The club had another caller for a while but could not make a go of it.
In 1974 Dave Wischemann moved to the area from Hawaii. He was dancing with the Singles and Pairs and still wore his callers badge from the Maui Mixers in Hawaii. Leaf and Will Roberts approached him and asked if he would help rebuild the Saucy Squares and call for them. He said yes. So he was the second caller for the club.
Dave Wischemann worked as an Engineering Technician at the Coast Guard base in Petaluma.
The club was dancing in the small reception Hall at the Methodist Church for about 2 years. Then in 1976 they arranged to dance in the dining hall at Analy High School. On more than one occasion the club was notified about a half hour before the dance that the room could not be used due to a school function.
One evening Dave was complaining about the problem with Analy High School to a dancer from New York. The dancer said that his club built there own building on Fair Grounds property. This turned on a light in Dave’s mind and started many activities that resulted in the erection of Wischemann Hall.
The club members scrounged material from a couple of local tear-downs and worked evenings and weekends to work on the building. The building was constructed on an old sewage field. They broke ground in June, 1979. An Open House was held on February 1, 1981. They worked on several expansions over the years. The Dining Room was expanded during the summer of 1981. Â The current Kitchen was started in October, 1983.Â We owe a lot to Dave Wischemann for his leadership in getting Wischemann Hall erected.
The third caller for Saucy Squares, Steve Minkin, has had many occupations but they all led to his passion for writing. He still writes when he can but he calls square dancing full-time.
Steve and Rita started classes with Ken Rickert calling for the Forestville Prime Timers in January of 1980. In September of 1980 they started class with the Saucy Squares in their brand new building. The class was then on Thursday night. In December 1980 Steve called for the first time at an amateur night for the Saucy Squares. During the Spring of 1981 Steve started apprenticing to Dave Wischemann. Steve called one tip a night for the Thursday night class after which Dave would critique Steve. Steve also began calling for his first club, The Windsor Whirlers.
In the Fall of 1982 Steve started calling for The Saucy Squares on Tuesdays. Dave continues to call for the Thursday night class. In the Fall of 1985 Dave Wischemann retired and Steve began calling for the Thursday night class.
The Thursday night class ended in May 1995 due to a lack of beginners for several years. As the classes dwindled in size, a beginners class became impossible for clubs to maintain. The 1995 class had five dancers in it and the club was losing money each week. The class was moved into the Tuesday club. The class was held early in the evening. They danced before the regular club met.
About this time, Joanne Schlegel, of Circle’n Squares and The Spinners, came up with the idea of a co-op class on Mondays since no single club was getting much of a turnout for beginners. All of the plus level clubs in Santa Rosa and Petaluma took part in the co-op.
Lawrence Johnstone was the caller for a few years. Then Doug Saunders called for a short time. After that Steve Minkin became the caller.
Eventually the number of beginning dancers fell off and one by one the clubs pulled out of the co-op. So the Monday night class became the beginners’ class for the Saucy Squares club. The next Monday night class was for two adults and their five kids. Steve took in only $20.00 a night. Then the next class was for only one couple.
At this point Steve and other dancers worked to start an LGBTQ and straight-welcoming club, now called Redwood Rainbows, a thriving club with well over 100 members.