GIVE SQUARE DANCING A WHIRL
by Sam Shilmover
14 October 2006
Are you looking for an alternative to going to the gym?
Want an activity that you can do with your entire family?
Want to make some new friends?
Why not give Modern Square Dancing a try?
We all know that exercise is good for you. Running, aerobics, jazzercising, weight lifting, event sports (basketball and tennis) all seem to be hard work. Isn’t there a form of exercise that is also fun and doesn’t seem like hard work?
Yes there is – it’s called Square Dancing.
Modern Western Square Dancing may be just the activity you have been missing.
Square Dancing will Add Ten Years to your life, a surprising study shows:
Good for Body and Mind according to WebMD
Square dancing is a mental and physical challenge. It is dancing and it is thinking. The goal is to work with the others in your square. Moving in rhythm to the music keeps you physically fit. Reacting to the calls keeps you on your toes. No one knows what move will be called next. Experienced square dance callers teach you the moves and the names of the calls that you dance. You practice these moves until they feel as natural as walking. Then your caller combines the basic moves and steps into whole dance patterns. You (and the others in your square) simply follow the calls. Each arm turn brings a surprise, and as the pattern concludes, all the moves bring you back to your partner. The combination of dance figures is almost endless.
Square Dancing is for people of all ages who are ready to socially interact, it is said that “Square Dancing is Friendship set to Music”. People of all ages square dance finding it a fun social activity where there are no prizes, no points, no wreathes of laurel, no winners or losers, just a feeling of self-satisfaction and well being. It is intended for everyone to have a good time without the stress of competition. Dancing contains a social component that solitary fitness endeavors don’t. It gives you an opportunity to develop strong social ties, which contribute to self-esteem and a positive outlook. Besides the actual square dancing, dancers learn teamwork (yet there are no teams), cooperation, tolerance and patience. Let’s face it these are all attributes we all could use a little more in our lives.
A side benefit of Square Dancing is while you’re dancing you RELAX, mentally and physically, and completely forget any troubles that may have been plaguing you (bad day at the office, etc.). This pastime is a perfect way to forget your troubles, it is virtually impossible to think of anything else while you square dance. Because of the mental requirements of this activity, dancers forget about the day-to-day worries of the world and concentrate their efforts at making it through the dance.
Though many men avoid dancing in any form, in actuality, square dancing presents very few of the hated elements. Though square dancing is dancing in the sense of partners, trappings, and music, it’s actually like precision drill stepping performed with partners. Instead of a drill sergeant, there is a “Caller” who sings directions set to the music of popular songs. Following the Callers directions, the dancer’s moves are all coordinated. In square dancing, the dancers responsibility is to simply follow the “calls” and be where they are supposed to be at the moment they are supposed to be there. Novices can walk there; energetic dancers can boogie there – according to your mood at the moment.
Come learn to Square Dance. If you can walk you can learn to Square Dance. With most dance forms you have to learn to place your feet in specific arrangements – you have to learn to walk in a different way which is un-natural. This is not so with square dancing. Square dancing is based upon walking in defined directions for defined distances. Which is exactly what walking is. And as walking is one of the most natural things we do – square dancing becomes so easy to learn.
Square Dancing is good clean fun and generally safe, and people of all ages are involved. An evening of this entertainment is inexpensive. You’ll find yourself interacting with everyone from teenagers to the elderly… and you’ll find you all have something in common.
Articles from the Internet:
For Physical & Mental Exercise, Plus Sociability. Try Western Square Dancing. It’s Friendship Set To Music
Do-Sa-Do: Square Dancing and Mindfulness by Maya Talisman Frost
What is a Square Dancer
Don’t Be a Square — Dance! Do-Si-Do Fitness By Denise Mann WebMD Feature
Learn To Square Dance!
A Brief History Of Square Dancing
Contributing Factors by Jeff Garbutt
Prevention Magazine mentions Square Dancing as a healthy activity by Bob Knowles
Dance for the Health of it! from January 1994 Mayo Clinic Health Letter
Fun with Fitness Square Up, Slim Down and Promenade the Pounds Away By Diane Gustwiller; Defiance, Ohio
Dancing will add ten years to your life!
Square Dancing: The Historical Geography of an American Folk Custom Richard M. MacKinnon Allan Hancock College Santa Maria, California
PRESENTED BY CALLER ASSOCIATION MODESTO AREA
TABLE OF CONTENTS
This booklet is produced in an effort to help those new to square dancing to learn about the “Code of Ethics,” one’s attitude toward square dancing, some of the “does and don’ts in square dancing, some “Ground Rules,” some “Guidelines” to better enjoy the activity, introduction to “New Dancer Hoedowns” and a list of calls thru Mainstream. If you read the booklet and find it helpful and informative, then the purpose of the Callers Association of the Modesto Area (CAMA) has been met.
The object in square dancing is to enjoy an evening of friendship set to music The object in taking Square Dancing lesions is to become proficient enough to dance at the level that is danced at the various clubs’ workshops and Saturday dances.
In order to help you attain this goal, the following is recommended:
1. NEVER MISS A CLASS, unless it is absolutely necessary. Unfortunately, one must almost dedicate himself/herself to about one year of weekly lessons.
2. STUDY THE BASIC HANDBOOK, which is available from your caller. Also there is a VCR film produced by Gold Star Productions that you might want to view the various calls.
3. ASK FOR HELP, if you don’t understand a call. Remember the caller/instructor and all the other dancers are there to help you in every way possible.
4. ATTEND A MINIMUM OF FOUR NEW
DANCER HOEDOWNS. Lessons are where YOU learn the calls. Hoedowns are where you learn to react to the calls through practice.
REMEMBER, you will not learn at a steady pace. When it seems extra hard and you get frustrated, keep trying. All the club members are interested in helping you learn to Square Dance. Sometimes we will gently guide you in the right direction, if you go wrong . Keep in mind that we are only trying to help.
1. COURTESY – As a Square Dancer, I will respect other dancers and callers and treat everyone with courtesy.
2. FRIENDSHIP – I will go beyond the limits to be friendly because those who participate in this activity with me are all my friends.
3. LOYALTY – I will support my own club in all activities because it means the continuance of Square Dancing depends on my personal loyalty.
4. CLEANLINESS – I do not wish to offend anyone. I am very particular of my personal habits, breath as well as body.
5. ABSTINENCE – Many Square Dancers are held in public facilities where alcohol is forbidden and their continued availability is dependent upon a favorable public image of Square Dancers . The cooperation of dancers required for following the calls is impaired by drinking and close contact in a square with those who has consumed alcoholic beverages may be offensive. Therefore, I recognize the validity of the efforts to maintain a separation of Square Dancing from drinking, and will refrain from its use before and during the dances that I attend.
“If Square Dancing offered nothing more than physical exercise set to music, the values of participation would be limited. Actually the physical act of Square Dancing, like the folk dances of all nations, is the body within which, the spirit lives, and that spirit is expressive of the people who founded it. Square Dancing is an important social event. The people come because they need each other. They need the encouragement of their neighbors as well as the relaxation and escape, for a time, from the problems of existence. They dance; they visit; they feast. Hospitality, consideration, kindness, patience, cooperation and good fellowship blend into the spirit of their dancing.”
“EXAMINE YOUR ATTITUDE TOWARD OTHER DANCERS”
Square Dancing is and must always; remain a “FUN” activity that blends people of all professions, personalities, skills and levels of experience into one common recreation pursuit. There is no place for a person whom by nature can’t tolerate “goofs” and slower responses. Be patient, laugh off mixups, and appreciate that you had to learn too. In fact, you may be the next to “goof”.
Be patient and tolerant, laugh together and differences will eventually be swallowed up in your dance , fun and enthusiasm. The GOLDEN RULE should always apply at your club
1. THOU SHALT – greet thy caller and learn the power of concentration by silently repeating his call as your success depends upon his words.
2. THOU SHALT – wear badges, be friendly and exchange greetings lest thee be labeled a snob and unworthy of the title Square Dancer.
3. THOU SHALT – remain silent while the caller gives advice and instruction. You might receive the ire of the caller as he knows the other seven in your square don’t know what he is teaching.
4. THOU SHALT NOT – Anticipate nor dance ahead of the caller for he possesses the ability to foul you up and make you look foolish to those you dance with .
5. THOU SHALT NOT – ridicule those dancers who have two left hands or feet but do everything in your power to help them distinguish one from the other.
6. THOU SHALT – try always to dance in ” different sets so you can share your personality and experience with all.
7 . THOU SHALT NOT – moan and belittle the caller when you have goofed and save the arguing until after the tip. A set that breaks down doesn’t stand, they usually get into lines and restart when the active sets are in lines or they square up.
8. THOU SHALT – bathe diligently before going to a dance and use deodorants as many pass under our arms.
9. THOU SHALT NOT – partake of strong drink before nor during a dance lest thy mind become befuddled and you end up being criticized by all you dance with.
10. THOU SHALT – be an active part of your class, club or workshop and remember that its success rests upon your shoulders. It is not a sin to as~ for help when you have trials for when you go home confused; you will return confused.
THE REWARDS OF OBSERVING THESE COMMANDMENTS WILL BE GREAT FOR MANY FRIENDS WILL YOU HAVE AND YOUR NAME WILL BE LISTED AMONG THE FINEST PEOPLE …THE SQUARE DANCERS.
1. BE A GOOD LISTENER. The caller is like a quarterback. He calls the play~ by. giving you the signals for the ‘movements he wants you to make. Talking or thinking of something else is distracting to you and makes it difficult for others to listen.
2. GET INTO SQUARES QUICKLY. Don’t make the caller and fellow dancers beg you to dance! Do you realize how much time in an evening is spent that could be used for dancing if so much time was not wasted waiting for dancers to ‘square up’?
3. BE A COURTEOUS DANCER. Standard rules of courtesy are always appreciated. Saying “Thank you” to all those in the set with you is a natural reaction.
Be aware of these special courtesies:
a. Its considered bad manners to pass a square in order to fill another square.
b. Even worse, is to leave a square, once you have joined it, until the tip is over.
4. BE ON TIME FOR CLUB AND CLASSES.
This speaks for itself. Just one person can prevent a square from “squaring up”.
5. BE A THOUGHTFUL DANCER. Personal cleanliness is important in any activity, especially one where folks exercise vigorously in clear contact with each other. Another rule to remember is – BEFORE SQUARING DANCING, DON’T DRINK.
6. BE A COOPERATIVE DANCER. A square is made up of eight individuals working as a unit with no individual person attempting to show off or be “THE STAR”.
7. TAKE IT EASY. Don’t overdo. If you get tired, sit down. Sometimes you can learn a great deal by watching and listening.
8. BE A FRIENDLY DANCER. You are the host in each square you dance. Get acquainted with others in the square and make it a point to dance with as many different dancers as possible each evening. It has been said that “Square dancing is friendship set to music” .
9. YOU’RE NEVER THROUGH LEARNING. You’ll find there is always something new that you can learn or some part of your dancing that can be improved upon. 10. ENJOY YOURSELF. Have fun. Pleasure is contagious. You’ll be surprised how much your smile will pep up t.he entire square.
1. DANCE WITH OTHER CLUBS
Your club needs your support and there should always be a special pace for the club where you learned to dance, but you are missing one of the great things about Square Dancing if you only dance with your home club. You are missing the chance to make many friends and denying other dancers the chance to meet you . At the same time, if for some reason, you are not happy in the club you are with, don’t stop dancing. Find a club you can be happy in.
2. DANCE TO OTHER CALLERS:
During your lessons you have tuned yo ear to the caller who taught you, and you will have a special place for him/her, too. Every caller has a different style and that’s all part of the fun. Decide for yourself which callers you enjoy, but try them all . You might miss a good one.
3. DON’T DANCE IN THE BACK OF THE HALL:
The tendency is for the newer dancer who is a little unsure of his/her proficiency to want to hide in back where he/she thinks the caller can’t (wont see their square break down. If all the newer dancers dance in the back, you are only dancing with each other and your square is more apt to break down. If there is going to be a sound problem, it will be in the back where the sound travel through all the people dancing in front. The crowd noises also makes it harder to hear. Obviously everyone can’t dance in front, but don’t be afraid to take your turn.
4. DON’T DANCE JUST WITH OTHER NEW DANCERS
This goes hand in hand with dancing in the back of the hall. If all four couples in your square are new dancers and a little slow to react to calls, your square will break down. Sometimes an out-reached hand from a more experienced dancer is all that your square needs to keep going. Everyone dancing today was a new dancer at one time and can remember how it felt. They will be happy to dance with you. NOW BE AWARE you may run into the “old grouch”. If they make some unfavorable remark don’t let them dis-courage. Remember there are 100 others that know the ethics of square dancing.
5. TOUCH HANDS WITH EVERY MOVE (on both sides)
ANOTHER MAIN REASON SQUARES BREAK DOWN IS BECAUSE THE DANCERS HAVE FAILED TO ESTABLISH THEIR POSITION BY TOUCHING THE HAND OF THE DANCER OR DANCERS NEXT TO THEM AT THE END OF EACH MOVE. Do AS THE TELEPHONE COMPANY SUGGEST: “Reach out and touch someone”. If you are lost, at least you will know you have company when you are touching hands. Remember: IF YOU CAN TOUCH HANDS.
6. KEEP DANCING DURING THE SUMMER
This is possibly the most important hint. You have all this new information jammed into you head and the only way to make it “second nature” is to practice, practice, practice. If your club shuts down for the summer, find another club that are still dancing.
7. BE AWARE OF YOUR DANCING LEVEL
Most of the new dancers graduate as Mainstream dancers and should have received a list of all the calls. Included in this level. But before you graduate there will be New Dancer Hoedowns given by different clubs. Look for dances that are advertised at the level that you are dancing. DO NOT GO TO DANCES/HOEDOWNS EXPECTING OR HOPING THAT SOMEONE WILL “PULL” YOU THROUGH. Do not be afraid to ask the caller to explain a move or call at a dance if you are having troubles. Many dancers can explain a call, but they may tell you wrong. The best thing is to ask the caller. Callers started out as new dancers, too!!
8. DON’T BE IN A HURRY TO DANCE OTHER LEVELS
There are several levels of Square Dancing. The level you dance has nothing to do with how good a dancer you are no matter what some will insinuate. It has to do with how much time you have had to devote to the hobby. You may choose to move to another level and that’s fine. Don’t make the choice at all until you have danced Mainstream for at least one full year after graduation even if your caller has or is teaching Plus. Don’t let anyone rush you.
9. DON’T TAKE SQUARE DANCING TO SERIOUSLY
Square Dancing is for fun. The odds are fairly good that someone is going to make a mistake once in awhile (SOMETIMES THE CALLER EVEN MAKES ONE)
Don’t worry about whose fault it was. It doesn’t matter. Keep smiling, regroup quickly, form a line and wait until the rest of the dancers are in a line, then start with the next call. There is a saying “If you make enough mistakes, buy some equipment and become a caller”.
Jump right up when the music starts, get in the first open square, introduce yourself, smile and have fun. Thank everyone in your square when the tip is over.
DO be aware at all times that square dancing is a recreation rather than a completion.
DO keep smiling even if you are angry with yourself for “goofing”. The other seven people in the set might think you are frowning at them.
DO recognize your corner, not only what they are wearing, but who they are. Next to your partner they are most important person in your square.
DO be quiet and attentive to the caller during the instructions even though you know what he is trying to explain. Perhaps someone else in your set needs to be briefed.
DO wear proper Square Dance Attire – long sleeves for men, full skirts for ladies.
DO remember to treat all ladies as yo would want other men to treat your wife. The ladies always seem to treat other men a little gentler than their own spouse.
DO wear a name badge at all times. It might surprise some of the oldsters t learn that they are not as ‘well known or important as they think they are t others.
DO accept or admit you “goofed” this time. Next time it could be someone Else’s turn so don’t feel bad. And when you “goof”, goof gracefully and try to recover the best you can in order to save the set from breaking up entirely TRY TO KEEP DANCING.
DO remember where your place in the square (sides, heads,I,2,3,4 couple) DO end each dance with a flourish, applause and tanks to all in the set and mean it.
DO support a club as a dues paying member. The life blood of the square dance picture flow through this avenue and is the backbone of the recreation If everyone was a free loader, there would be no way to pay the bills.
DO make it a practice to thank guest for coming, the caller for his efforts, and the club president where you are visiting. In general, thank everyone who help make your evening a pleasant one.
DO pretend to be having a good time even if you are bored. Perhaps the other seven are thoroughly enjoying themselves. If you want a real challenge, try dancing with the seven weakest dancers. Maybe you are good enough get them through.
DO take your turn at responsibilities in the Square Dance picture as officers in a club, on the serving committee, in any way that you can help others rather than be catered to always.
CAUTION: Don’t take a club office until you have danced at least a year.
THE LAST DO: Always thank the caller at the end of the dance. His pay is not the small amount of money he receives but the pleasure he sees as you enjoy yourself. Let him know if you had fun. DON’T be a competitive dancer. Don’t try to out do the others.
DON’T be over exuberant. Your yells might drown out the caller’s next command for everyone around you . Learn to be “noisy” at the right intervals: IE. during a Right and Left Grand but not on the Allemande Left or during an Allemande Thar patter and not at the change of command point.
DON’T be a “know-it-all”. Let the caller be the instructor unless you are asked personally after the tip is over.
DON’T cut in or out of a set unless you know how. If you are cut out, leave gracefully.
DON’T be guilty of “horse-play” unless you know the set would not be offended, or the club.
DON’T take that extra swing with your partner. It might make her late for the next left allemande with her waiting corner.
DON’T forget to trade a dance, especially with a guest. And don’t overlook the caller’s wife. She might like to dance rather than sit all the time. At least ask her.
DON’T sit like a bump on a log when another couple is needed for a set. If you want to sit out a tip, disappear into the wash room or some place where you are not seen. But don’t disappear if you think your partner may square expecting you to join the set.
DON’T cry about the hall, the sound, the crowd, the floor. Think positive thoughts so others around you aren’t effected. They might be having the best time ever.
DON’T spin or twirl the ladies unless you know she likes it. Let her decide if she wants that extra twirl. No one ever got a sore arm by not spinning.
DON’T set up squares to go out on the dance floor. If you are sincere about dancing with friends in the same set , stand across from each other and allow any two couples to join you that happen to come along.
DON’T insist on dancing YOUR way when visiting other areas. If these people dance palms up in the alamo, go along with it. If they do or do not stir the bucket, do as the Romans do but keep your opinions to yourself unless asked.
NEW DANCER HOEDOWNS
Flyers will be available at your class telling you when and where New Dancer Hoedowns are being held. The flyer will state the level of the dance. You can tell if you are dancing the level by checking with your instructor or the list of calls located in this booklet. All the New Dancer Hoedowns in our area will be at the level you are dancing. However, if you attend a dance outside our area, be sure to check the level to insure that you can dance all the calls to be used. If the caller uses calls beyond the advertised level, then it isn’t your fault. If you go to a dance beyond your level and the square breaks down, then it will be your fault. Some experienced dancers will say “Come on, we will PULL you through.” Don’t go. You don’t want to be “pulled” all night, do you?
You will find that you learn a lot at a hoedown. This is the time you can practice and learn to react to the calls. This is the time to enjoy, with less pressure, what you have worked so hard to learn during lessons. Have FUN at Hoedowns. That is what they are for.
HAVE MORE FUN, GOING TO AS MANY NEW DANCER HOEDOWNS AS YOU CAN
C.C.S.D.A: California Square Dancer Association. All the square dance clubs from Merced, Twain Harte, Turlock, San Andreas have joined together to form an association. Representatives from the various clubs meet once a month to share ideas, coordinate activities and in general work for the GOOD of square dancing. It sponsors one festival per year and publish the Promenader. At the present they’re 7 sq. dance clubs, 4 round dance clubs.
CALIFORNIA SQUARE DANCE Council. All the associations (like CCSDA) in the state join together to deal with issue of state wide concerns in square dancing. The Presidents of the various associations meet regularly. The state council hold one major festival per year called the State Convention. Ever other year the convention is held in a southern state city. The following yea it is held in a northern state city.
NATIONAL SQUARE DANCE COUNCIL: The representatives from the various- State Councils in the U.S. and others meet and promote square dancing on the national level. They hold a National Convention once per year in various cities in the U.S.
FESTIVAL : Usually a three day event from Friday night to Sunday with multi programs; sq. dancing, rounds, clogging, contra, western swing, etc. (Same as National and State Conventions)
WING DING: A three day festival held in Turlock in March sponsored by C. C.S.D.A
CLASSES: Usually refers to those new to square or round dances, but can refer to concentrated learning of a new program. THE EMPHASIS IS ON LEARNING. WORKSHOP: Local clubs meet to learn and practice various calls and routines. More emphases is on practice and enjoying dancing with other club members.
HOEDOWNS OR DANCES OR PARTY NIGHTS: The meaning is basically the same for all. Dancers from all clubs are invited to dance together. The emphases is on dancing. Very little if any teaching is done. Dancers are encouraged to check the level of the dance and not dance “over their head”.
CALLERLAB: An organization of callers from allover the world. It has no jurisdiction over local callers, and is not necessary for a caller to belong to the organization to call. CALLERLAB , has a convention once a year in vario cities of the u.s. There is no dancing at this convention. Members meet to coordinate and share ideas, make suggestions and recommendations concerning square dancing. CALLERLAB been responsible for establishing levels of dance so dancer~ ” can dance the same movements anywhere in the world. At the present there are the BASIC, MAINSTREAM, PLUS , ADVANCED 1 & 2, AND CHALLENGE PROGRAMS.
ROUNDALAB: Exactly the same as CALLERLAB except for round dancing. A the present the round dancers call their programs PHASES. There are six the present, each progressing with difficulty dance steps.
BMI AND ASCAP: Licensing agents for those that write and record music. It is necessary for callers and/or the club to be licensed by BMI AND ASCAP , use the songs and music for square and round dancing. A club or sponsoring agency can be held liable for a very heavy find if the club or their caller and cuer is not licensed. The cost is between $150 and $250 per year.
INSURANCE: For a fee you can buy insurance to cover you while at a dance. This is secondary insurance after YOUR primary.
CALLERS ASSOCIATION MODESTO AREA (CAMA)
by Dave Brown,
Member of the Boots N Slippers Square Dance Club
The time is 6:59 pm. The music starts and the caller booms out over the microphone, “Square Up”. Everyone rushes out to the main dancing area of the floor and forms several, four couple squares. As the squares come together, people are introducing themselves to others in their newly formed, four sided square. Intro’s are good, but also wise, as each person orients themselves in the square. “Am I one of the Side Couples? Yep… we’re couple number four.” “That means we are facing couple number two” Each dancer needs to know what their relationship is, in the square. The caller sounds out “Bow to the partner, corners all… Allemande Left to a Right and Left Grand.” and we are officially on our way to an evening of great fun with our Square Dance friends.
Hi, I’m Dave Brown.
I too call Square Dances when I’m not actually dancing.
As I write this, I think back on the 47 years of Square Dancing and the “Calling” of Square Dances that I have participated in. I enjoy either discipline equally. I have taught thousands of people, to some degree, the art of “Square Dancing”. I have called for various Square Dance clubs over the years as well as calling One Night Barn Dances for churches, college fraternities, clubs, schools, as well as private and business organizations. For a Barn Dance, my goal is to keep it simple, and teach just enough calls for the group to have fun for the evening as a social mixer.
I thought I might lend a little different perspective on our activity in hopes that you might decide to join us.
Let me explain some types of dancing and the differences between them.
Bar Room Dancing
Bar room dancing: This venue of dancing often includes western style dancing and most often includes alcohol. I liken this to free form dancing with a few structured moves. It’s just that. Body movement to the beat of the music. I lump these two types of dancing together mainly because of the use of Alcohol.
I would like to make note of a more recent form of solo dancing that seems to originate in America. This is a type of dance that I leave to the young (it seems mostly male). This is known as “Break Dancing”. Many of us are familiar with this because of the current media focus. I’m sure that most of us, of a more mature age will refrain from this type of dancing for obvious physical reasons. I do respect the talent and physical strength that it takes to achieve this form of dance. At this stage of my life, my body is just not cut out for it.
Many people are familiar with line dancing. A dance whereby a single (solo) individual, dances in a line that often forms a grid on the floor with other people to pre-choreographed movements. The dance may or may not be cued or prompted by a person reading from a choreograph sheet. Many people memorize the steps, or simply watch or mimic someone who has already memorized the choreography. A partner is not generally needed for line dancing. Sometimes bars host these events and alcohol is involved, but more often, it is a non alcohol environment.
Next, the well known form of dance know as “Ballroom Dancing”. This is probably the most intimate form of dancing involving a couple, where body movements are synchronized to the beat of the music. The different beats are in the form of Waltzes, Rumbas, Tangos, Two Step and Salsa, along with a few other beat types. Many people avoid learning this form of dance in fear of having two left feet. I figure the brain is just to far from the feet for some people. If you think about the intimate side of this, it is not normally taught in grammar school, because young people are just not ready to be involved in this kind of body contact.
Another form of Ballroom Dancing, is know as “Round Dancing”. Most Ballroom dancing (as described above) is “free form” involving the various dance moves in the different beats. Round Dancing is pre-choreographed Ballroom dancing. This is where couples orient themselves counterclockwise in a large circle on the main floor of the hall. A “Cuer” is employed to prompt you with the pre-choreographed Ballroom dance moves to popular music that you hear in the various medias. I find this to be a lot of fun with my dance partner. I enjoy the intimate side that Round Dancing gives us.
The coordination of our feet, legs, arms and body movement in close proximity to each other is a joy. Best of all, I don’t have to make up the free form dance part of it. As a result of using a cuer, I learn many more dance moves and get to use them as to the difficulty level announced with each song. Phase II, Phase III, IV, V etc. Each phase offering more moves to execute. For a look-see, try YouTube.com and search for “Round Dance Square”. Be sure to use the word “square” in the search, as cued Round Dancing is most often associated with Square Dancing.
Now, let’s explore Square Dancing.
We jump from individual and couple dance types, to eight people. Four couples, in a square formation, with each couple facing through the center of the square aligning their shoulders with a wall. (assuming that the hall has 4 walls.) Square Dancing uses a lesser form of intimacy than Round Dancing. You form up a small social group that works in a close proximity known as a ‘Square’. You’re close enough to do hand touches or pull by’s with seven other people in your square, with an occasional “swing your partner” thrown in. I don’t know of any other social environment that everyone works this close to seven other people, in such a fun way.
Add the beat of modern hoedown music, along with touch, as described above, mix in a structured social environment with no alcohol, and it just can’t get any better. We enjoy laughing it up with new found friends, and have the time of our life. You will find that Square Dancing is usually easier to learn than Ballroom dancing. Just remember, feet don’t count. That’s right, feet don’t count. The test? Stand and face a mirror. Look down at your feet. Yep, facing the same way you are looking. Now, turn around with your back to the mirror. Look down. Did your feet follow? What counts is where your shoulders are facing. Head and Feet follow. You qualify to learn to Square Dance. (I figure it’s easier to learn because your shoulders are closer to the brain than your feet.)
Square Dancing has evolved to what we now call “Modern Square Dancing”. This comes about from the advent of electronic amplification. Early on, before electronics, routines were originally memorized by the dancers and prompted by someone yelling the calls out.
The calls were up to 64 beats in timing, as there was a band playing music and the prompter had to yell louder than the music to be heard by everyone. Most common were 8 to 32 beat calls. The Do-Sa-Do was traditionally a beat call. With microphones and amplifiers now, today’s prompter has been re-classified as a “Caller”, and the “Calls” are accomplished in fewer beats, such as the Do-Sa-Do at four beats.
As a result of the dancers now being able to hear instantly and clearly what the caller says, there are now more calls and the caller can mix them up. For the caller, it’s sort of like playing chess on the fly, because, unlike chess, the caller has to be able to keep the dancers moving in a constant, smooth flow to the beat of the music, one call after another.
The social environment is like no other group that I have been in. I think, because of being in close proximity to everyone while square dancing, everyone becomes good friends. When I travel, I look up a local square dance and try to attend. I am always welcomed and I have fun making new friends in different parts of the country.
For some people, staying in town and dancing is enough for them. For those of you who like to travel, by any method, be it RV, car or flight, there is pretty much a square dance wherever you go. With the internet, it’s easy to find a dance where you might be going.
Square Dance calls are universal world wide and always called in English. Square Dancing has become popular in Japan in the past few years. Thanks to the Callers organization, Callerlab, we have a standardized set of calls in several difficulties, ranging from Basic calls to Advanced and Challenge levels. You will find most clubs are set at “Mainstream” or with a few more calls to learn “Plus”. Maintaining proficiency in any of these levels is simply determined as to how many hours a week you wish to be out as well as to the availability of what is offered in your area.
Pam, a member of the Boots N Slippers offered up this testimonial:
“When I went to Nationals in Arkansas, I’d only been dancing for 9 months. It was one of the best experiences of my life.
If you’d had told me five years ago that I would be getting on an airplane, flying to Arkansas and having fun dancing with total strangers, I would have told you that you were crazy. That’s exactly what I did two years ago.
What a great learning experience. Experiences like these have raised my self confidence to the point where I don’t sit in the corner any more.
My first Party dance, away from the lessons I was taking, was our “Veterans Day Dance” hosted by the “Boots n Slippers.” I was terrified and nervous, but after the first tip, my confidence soared as I found out, that I wasn’t the only one thinking like this. When I found out that the long time experienced dancers would help us newbies without hesitation, I relaxed and had fun beyond my wildest dreams.”
On the subject of food… Yep!
Different clubs have different agendas when it comes to food. Rest at ease, the Boots n Slippers have great snacks. I would recommend that you have dinner before you come, but save room for dessert.
It’s time to sign off here, but before I do, I would like to invite you to come learn to Square Dance. We have all learned at one time or another and as a Caller I can tell you, very few people can “not learn”. You’d be surprised how well you can do.
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