Mon-Fri 8:00am - 6:00pm EST

Playground Equipment for Sale - AAA State of Play

Find Close

Swing Your Partner: The Basics of Square Dancing

Square dancing is a type of social dance in which groups of four couples form a square and perform a series of choreographed movements directed by a caller. The job of a caller in square dancing is to guide dancers through the dance by calling out specific movements and sequences. This role requires a deep understanding of square dance calls, the ability to sequence calls effectively for dancers of varying skill levels, and the skill to match the tempo and mood of the music with the calls.

Social dances like square dancing are important in American culture, as they foster community, provide entertainment, and serve as a way to celebrate and socialize, strengthening bonds among participants. Square dancing in particular reflects a rich tradition, offering a sense of belonging and cultural heritage while promoting physical activity and mental agility.

Basic Calls for Square Dancing

  • Allemande Left: Dancers face their corner, join left hands, and walk around each other.
  • Do-Si-Do: Partners face each other and circle around each other without touching.
  • Promenade: Couples hold hands and walk counterclockwise around the square.
  • Swing: Partners hold each other and spin around.
  • Sashay: Dancers slide-step or glide sideways from one position to the next, without turning to change the direction they are facing. The movement could involve individuals or couples.
  • Right and Left Grand : Dancers alternate hands with opposite dancers and weave around the circle.
  • Square Through: Four couples face each other and perform a series of hand turns.
  • Circle Left/Right: Dancers join hands in a circle and move in the indicated direction.
  • Forward and Back: Dancers move toward and then away from the opposite person or couple.
  • Swing Through: Dancers swing their arms to turn the adjacent dancer by the right and then the next by the left.
  • Spin the Top: In a sequence of movements, dancers in a line spin with their partners, and then the two dancers in the center spin with each other, making a three-quarter circle as the dancers on the outside move up to join their partners.
  • Weave the Ring: Dancers move in a circular pattern, weaving in and out between each other.
  • Star Through: Partners join right hands, pass through, and then the man turns the lady to his right.
  • Roll Away to a Half Sashay: The male dancers help the female dancers move in front of them to end on the opposite side. This is usually the starting or ending point of a hand-holding circle.
  • Ladies In, Men Sashay: Women move into the center of the square. As this is happening, the male dancers sashay around the outside of the square to the next available position, switching places. The women step back, and everyone forms a hand-holding circle.
  • Pass Through, Separate, and Go Home : Separately, couples pass around the person in front of them on the right and walk around the outside of the other couples before ending up in their starting positions.
  • Box the Gnat: While holding each other's right hands, men step behind their female dance partner as she is turning to the left under his arm to end up facing the opposite direction, while never having let their hands drop.
  • Wrong Way Grand: This is like the right and left grand, except that dancers move the opposite way around the circle.

History of Square Dancing

Square dancing's history is a fascinating one woven together from the cultural traditions of European settlers, particularly from England, Ireland, Scotland, and France. Those traditions merged with influences of African American and Native American dance forms. This unique blend formed during the colonial period in North America, evolving through the centuries to become the tradition of square dance that we recognize today.

Square dancing was initially a form of social dance that allowed settlers to maintain their cultural identities while adapting to a new world. Over time, square dancing absorbed local traditions and changes, leading to the diverse styles of modern square dance that can be seen across the United States. Its role as a communal activity for celebration, socialization, and entertainment has cemented square dancing's place in American culture, leading to its designation as the official dance of many states.

Today, square dancing is celebrated through gatherings that both honor its traditional roots and embrace modern variations. One of the key ways it's celebrated is through National Square Dancing Day, which occurs annually on Nov. 29. This day is dedicated to appreciating square dancing as a form of folk dancing with deep roots in European folk dance. It's a day for square dance enthusiasts to host dance parties, learn new moves, and share their passion for this dance form. The celebration aims to bring people together to learn about the dance's rich history and variations and enjoy the communal spirit that square dancing fosters.

Square Dancing Clubs, Organizations, and Callers' Associations

There are many square dancing clubs and organizations worldwide, providing opportunities for dancers of all levels to participate, learn, and enjoy. Joining a square dancing club or organization offers numerous benefits, including physical exercise, social interaction, mental stimulation, and cultural enrichment. It's an enjoyable way to stay active, meet new people, and be part of a community. Square dancing involves learning various calls and movements, which can improve memory and coordination. Additionally, it's an opportunity to engage with a tradition that has historical significance, providing a sense of connection to the past. The inclusive and welcoming nature of square dancing communities makes it accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds.

When joining a square dancing club or organization, one typically learns the basics of square dance calls and movements, including formations and sequences of movements. There's also a focus on listening and responding to the caller's instructions, developing coordination and rhythm. Members gain skills in teamwork and communication, as square dancing requires cooperation among dancers. Clubs often provide lessons on dance etiquette, attire, and the cultural history of square dancing. Advanced techniques and complex calls may be introduced as dancers progress.

To join a square dancing club or organization, you generally don't need a background in dance. Dancers only need an interest in learning and participating in square dances. Some clubs may have a dress code, often encouraging traditional square dance attire, like dresses for women and Western shirts for men, but this can vary by club. Rules of conduct typically emphasize respect, cooperation, and maintaining a positive, inclusive environment. It's important to follow the caller's instructions, respect your dance partners and fellow dancers, and contribute to the community spirit of the events. Specific requirements can differ, so it's best to check with the club you're interested in joining.

Miscellaneous Square Dancing Resources

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

We can't find products matching the selection.