When in 1977 a new community center was opened on the east side of Bremen, a new dance group was established, too. They offered “Dances for Young and Old”. The dances took place each Tuesday in the hall of the center and everyone could join in and move to music from all over the world. A year later the leader in charge came back enthusiastically from a trip to the US where she had learned Square Dance. Spontaneously the dancers decided to change to this type of dance without knowing what it was all about. It was quite laborious to teach and learn singing calls from booklets and disks – and a Caller was nowhere in sight. The definitions of the figures were insufficient. (Why was everything in English?)
According to the statutes, people could continue to join the open group at any time. Therefore they started again several times a year with “Circle Left”. Due to personal contacts it was later possible to enlist an American Caller from the Osterholz-Scharmbeck Club and so the first real beginners’ class could start in October 1980. It was the first time the courses were for a closed group and for a fee. There were quite a lot of difficulties to master for the 20 dancers before they made it to the Basic Graduation. Fortunately a graduated dancer joined the group and she tried to carry on the work of the Caller, who had to leave after he had been transferred. She was supported by her home Caller from Bonn, Hans-Georg Haaser. From then on, this man became the essential help, even from such a distance. Once in a while, he came to Bremen at weekends and helped the class members to progress. In the meantime they even had become used to the English.
On October 8th, 1984, the first Mainstream Graduation was held in Bremen for 24 dancers, very simply in a decorated work shop. The group named themselves the “Key Porters”. In doing so, the connection to the “port” of Bremen town was also made. As a Club Badge the “Bremen Town Musicians” were chosen because of their high popularity. (note of the editor: the “musicians” donkey, dog, cat and cock are characters from a German fairy tale.) The guest dangle shows the emblem of Bremen, the key. The constitutional meeting of the new club took place on April 30th, 1985 with 27 members. The date of foundation is May 1st, 1985.
The admittance to the umbrella organization of the EAASDC followed on August 31st, 1985 at the Fall Round Up in Berlin. In those times it was still usual to introduce new Clubs personally. Since then the “Key Porters” belong to the huge Square Dance family of the world.
In the meantime, a young man from the Club, Helge Dejoks, had become a Caller which enabled us to make new classes. In October 1985 our first own class was graduated and more were to follow. Up to 1990 the number of members stabilized at around 40, but with a quite high fluctuation.
On October 11th, 1983 the first Club Event took place, the so-called “One Night Stand” with a moderate number of guests. Out of this the annual “Herbst (Autumn) Dance” derived, which has already taken place for the 25th time with a continuous rise of visitors up to 300. This event is still held at our main dance place.
The strong common urge by some of our dancers to travel, combined with many visits to events and other Clubs, led to good contacts in all parts of Germany and in turn attracted guests to our Club.
In 1987 the Caller Helge Dejoks had to resign due to his studies and Uwe Jansen succeeded him. He carried on with this until 1991. In addition, a member from the Club excelled and turned out to be a talented Caller. Due to the professional demands of Uwe Jansen, the other Caller had to stand in for him now and again and arranged the Club nights himself. After Uwe left, Sven Köwing (formerly Sven Hesse) is now the Club Caller of the Key Porters, and has been now for 19 years! At his side is another “self breed” – Gudrun Schroeter, who now is often absent from her home Club.
During the years the desire to organize bigger events arose. On August 19th/20th 1989 the Club accomplished a big benefit event with the motto “40 years of Square Dance in Germany”. With certificates and piggy banks Clubs took over sponsorships and collected donations in their home areas. These donations were handed over in a celebratory ceremony to Senator Henning Scherf, the patron of the event, and accumulated to the respectable sum of 10.500,00 German Marks. The highlight of the event was on a Sunday with breakfast in the park, a parade in the city and a demonstration dance in front of the City Hall and Dome in the burning sun. One of the Callers was Paul Hartman (USA), who had first started Square Dance in a Bremen villa 40 years earlier. In 1994 the Key Porters were able to stage the Summer Jamboree. As a venue nothing less than the Bremen Town Hall, directly at the main railway station, was chosen. We were able to welcome 1650 dancers as guests, some of whom are still swarming about the event even today, while the Club was of course very pleased about this great turnout.
In 1990 the Club reached with 70 its greatest number of members. At this time also a Round Dance branch developed with the Cuer Angela Ernst (today Angela Grob). Round Dance was held on another day in the usual community center. Unfortunately the Club never found the right feeling for the cooperation of both dancing groups, among other things, there was a problem with payments and the numbers of dancers creating a “big brother, small sister” relationship. After lengthy debates the Round Dancers commonly declared their resignation from the club in early 1997 and the Round Dance group was closed down. This led also to the foundation of the current Round Dance Club, the “Sailor Shuffles”. So in the end this development turned out to be a good one.
Only one more event was then done on a bigger scale, which was the 10th Club Anniversary together with the 10th “Herbst Dance”. With 450 guests we received the highest number of guests ever at a Club event. For many years 200 to 250 guests had been the standard at the annual “Herbst Dance”, which is always at the next to last Saturday in October; but unfortunately this number was never reached again until now.
Currently the Club has 35 members. Only one couple of the founding members (Helga and Hans Schulze) are still active dancers in the Club today, while others have been loyal for the Club for at least 10 or 20 years. Club events are the annual “Kohl and Pinkel Weekend” in a school holiday resort and smaller Club excursions with bicycles, barbecues and similar things.
Until today the Club has had 5 presidents while the longest term of a president was 10 years. Also, one of the treasurers acted for a decade and another accomplished 15 years as vice president and 4 as president. The current board has as well been in office for a number of years. That consistency in the responsibilities has worked out very well for the Club life.
We still dance on Tuesdays at 7pm in the community center “Neue Vahr”, which is the same place where the Club was founded 25 years ago and was converted from a “Dance Along for Everyone Group” into today’s Square Dance Club, the “Key Porters” of Bremen.
Translation: Claudia Burger