These moves are oh-so-Swede

Stanton, Ia.—The to-do list for Billy Cleveland’s first time on RAGBRAI included seeing Mr. Porkchop and eating a lot of pie. On Monday, he accomplished something he never would have known to put on the list—Swedish dancing in this small Scandinavian town.


The Stanton High School show choir demonstrated traditional dances on a stage on Main Street, occasionally pulling up riders to join them.

Cleveland and Angela Ahlquist, both of Atlanta, took the stage around 10 a.m. and stepped off ginning broadly.

“We had no idea what we were doing,” Cleveland said.

“What are you talking about?” Ahlquist asked with mock indignation. “I’m Swedish!”

Marla Nelson, the vocal music teacher in Stanton, said students here learn the dances in grade school. Most of the high school kids haven’t done them since.

“They’re enjoying it,” she said. “They’re trying not to enjoy it, but they are.”

Cleveland was happy to leave town with one less thing to accomplish before he can drop the title given to first time riders.

“I guess I’m not a virgin Swedish dancer anymore,” he said. Then he went to look for a piece of pie.

– L. Lars Hulsebus

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