Square Dance ,The Most Fantastic Hobby of the World –
But what is Square Dance?
When you’re reading this, you’ve most likely got to this web page by accident and have only a vague – if any – idea of what Square Dance is. So let me give you an overview of what our hobby is all about! But be aware that every Square Dancer will give you an equally enthusiastic but different answer to the above question. So I’ll give you my very personal view of things but be warned that my view might be somewhat biased.
First thing: Don’t confuse Square Dance with what you might have seen as Ballroom Dancing. Comparing the two will do neither the rather intimate form of Ballroom dancing nor square dancing done in groups of eight justice!
The roots of our form of dancing lie in the Old World like so many other things that needed the melting pot of the USA to become popular in Europe (again).
After long days of hard work the settlers of the New World came together to celebrate and dance. But since every ethnic group had brought with them their very own dances and customs dancing together turned out to be rather difficult if not impossible, the new Americans, pragmatic as they are to this day, took elements of all these dances to form a new common dance form, the Square Dance. To tell the settlers what to do next they chose a “Caller” to announce – and teach – the figures to dance next. The term “Square Dance” is derived from the starting formation, four couples each standing on a side of a square waiting for the Caller to announce the next figure to dance.
Today, square dancing is done to every kind of music from classic to House. The widespread belief that Square Dancing is done only to Country & Western is in error although I can’t deny that C&W can still be heard often.
Does all this sound like a technical description of ordinary folk dancing? What then makes Square Dancing the most fantastic hobby of the world?
A conventional hobby wears itself out over time. There comes a time when there’s nothing new to explore, all ends reached, no surprises waiting for you anymore.
You still do it but more from habit than real enthusiasm – the hobby begins to bore you.
But Square Dance is different.
There are no dances learnt by heart like a ballet, every time you “square up” you have no idea what lies in store for you. All the dancers know is a set of basic moves but they have no idea in what sequence these moves are called. The choreography of each dance is invented anew every time by the Caller through combination of moves coming from a repertoire of at least 69 basic figures depending on the level being danced.
To get the message across to the dancers before him (or her), the Caller mixes the commands into the text of the song. The music – instrumentals only – comes from a record, mp3, tape or is – rarely – performed live with the caller acting as lead singer. Since Callers have no better memory than you or me the figures mixed into the song will differ each time even if sung by the same caller for the hundredth time!
Can you understand now what fascination this hobby can bring?
It is not only a physical exercise but mental training as well since you have to react quickly to the commands thrown at you by the caller, recall from memory what they mean and execute them in the correct sequence in concert with the other dancers in your square. While reading this you won’t believe how quickly you confuse “right” with “left” and the laughter this mistake will evoke from the other dancers in your square (who know perfectly well that they had made the same mistake countless times before)…
But Square Dance is much more than that.
This may sound a bit boastful but square dance is a near-complete ethical and moral foundation of your everyday life. Democratic behaviour is a matter of course just like friendliness and openness towards strangers or doing your duty on your square dancing club.
There are no competitions in square dancing, so the idea of “competing” is totally alien to square dancing. Instead there a dancing events – local, regional, national and even international – with more than a thousand dancers participating – an unforgettable social experience. Since Square Dancers “do it in groups of eight” and the successful completion of a tip depends on every one of the dancers there is an overwhelming feeling of “we can only succeed together” immanent to square dancing.
Square Dancing is by no means a local activity but is danced the world over. With the figures you’ve learned in your local club you can participate dances in Paris, Sidney or Tokyo. I will not go so far as to tell you that you don’t need to speak the local language at all but you can speak “Square Dance” and that alone will get you a lot closer to your fellow dancers. As a square dancer you’re never alone. All you have to do is visit a club and you will most certainly be very welcome there!
Are You interested?
Just look around, there’s most certainly a club near you. Alternatively you can m@il us and we can point you in the right direction…