Ray Holmes -- How I Became a Square Dance Caller

Usually when a square dancer decides he or she wants to be a caller, they ask to be mentored by an established caller. That involves getting "microphone time" to gain experience at dances. As a young square dancer, I never gave any thought to becoming a caller.

I had a friend in the automotive business, however, who really wanted to be a square dance caller. We used to get together on Saturdays and one of those times, he told me of his ambition. I had never heard him sing or do any calling, but I encouraged him to "go for it."

He began hanging around with my caller friend, Jim Randall, to get tutored and then to begin getting some "mic time". One Saturday when we got together he was so excited since he had just done a new singing call that Friday night. He told me how cool it was and that I should hear it.

He went to his car, got the record, put it on my stereo, and started to sing. He had no rhythm and it was obvious that he was tone deaf; it was just horrible. He couldn't even get through the song without messing it up.

I had heard the song on the radio a few times, so since I was familiar with it, I started singing along with him to help him get through it. Later when he had gone home I got to thinking: If he's that bad and Jim Randall allowed him "on the mic," maybe I should give it a try.

Ray Holmes

Jim taught me a lot about calling and we became great friends. For about the first five years of my calling career, I was always introduced as "the latest up and coming caller;" I couldn't wait to be introduced as just "Ray the caller." As for my Saturday friend, I think he quit square dancing and gave up the whole idea of being a square dance caller. But my good friend Jim Randall and I still have the pleasure of calling square dances together occasionally.