Article in the Press Democrat (Santa Rosa, California) about square dancing. (I apologize for the title. I don’t really like how they use “gays” in this context. It seems insensitive to me.)
Being a beginner caller can be extremely overwhelming. There are so many things you have to keep in mind when you are calling, such as formation, arrangement, sequence, and relationship, not to mention timing, rhythm, clarity of your voice, etc. Anything that can be done to simplify the task so you can concentrate on fewer things at once is highly welcome!
Here is a cheat sheet that will help you learn to resolve any square from normal (non-sashayed) two-faced lines (boys on the ends).
This cheat sheet lets you think primarily about getting your square into a normal two-faced line. Then, you just follow the instructions to resolve the square. I am currently using this as my go-to resolution method so I can practice calling extemporaneously based on formation. I watch to see what formation appears (ideally, I should be able to guess accurately ahead of time, but that doesn’t always work!) and then call something “legal” from that formation. When I have played enough, I put the couples into normal two-faced lines and resolve.
Here is a sheet of paper that you can print out to keep track of your key dancers before you start calling a tip. If you laminate the paper and then get a whiteboard marker and eraser, you can use the same paper every time.
I am a very new caller, and I am trying to find ways to organize all of the information that I need to put in my head in order to become a good caller. I decided to share any resources I make in case any other new callers find them useful. These resources will not likely be useful to veteran callers (except maybe to give out to new callers!) because this information is already in their heads. Also, there is a VERY HIGH possibility that I have made mistakes as I am a newbie caller, so please use these resources at your own risk! And if you find any mistakes, please feel free to let me know.
This resource is a cheat sheet that shows which calls will preserve a particular formation, and which will change it. It can be used as a cheat sheet when calling extemporaneously, or as a study tool. It was created on A3 size paper, so you may need to adjust your printer settings if you print it out.
Article on Caboodle (British Columbia, Canada) website about square dancing.
Special Proclamation Gets Square Dance Toes Tapping
September 22, 2014
Article on Nebraska TV website about square dancing.
Square Dancers Say Friendships, Fun Keep Them Returning to Hastings
September 21, 2014
This worksheet (Square Dance Club Options) is designed to help clubs think about their policies and the impact of their policies on the composition of their clubs. It is fine for clubs to have whatever policies they like, but it is also important to take into consideration how certain policies encourage or discourage certain people from wanting to join the club. There is no magic set of policies that will make square dancing clubs appeal to everyone. The important point is to think of your target audience and make sure your policies make your club appealing to those kinds of people.
There is a debate raging in square dance groups on Facebook (and presumably elsewhere) these days about the square dance dress code. On one side, there are the people who think it is an infringement of personal freedom to be told to wear anything in particular (other than some sort of clothing), and on the other, there are people who feel that the traditional costumes are part of the activity and, therefore, dancers should wear them. There are also people in the middle, since some people like to have a dress code of some sort (e.g. “long sleeves for men, skirts for women” or “dress nicely” or “no shorts”) and some people like to have dress codes for certain events but not others.
Here in Japan, many people like to wear the clothes that match the activity they are doing. If they are hiking, they will have proper hiking boots, hiking poles, hiking clothes, a rugged knapsack, etc., even if they are just going for a walk in an urban area that doesn’t actually require any of these things. Hiking is really just about hiking/walking (i.e. putting one foot in front of the other), but, for some people, the clothes add something to the experience, even if they are not actually necessary.
I think there is a certain personality type that prefers formal to informal, or “proper” to (what they perceive as) improper. There is also a certain personality type that prefers informal, and is less concerned about proper vs. improper.
To some people, the “traditional” square dance attire is old, uncool, unattractive, and difficult to dance in. To others, it brings additional joy to the activity. It is quite hard for people in one camp to understand the point of people in the other camp. (This is true of almost any divisive issue. The situation is exacerbated by the fact that we tend to surround ourselves with people who agree with us on many such issues, so we live in an artificial microcosm of agreement. This gives us the feeling that we are in the majority, when in fact, we have just created a convenient majority around ourselves.)
One argument that people often use in square dance debates is “it’s all about the dancing”. The problem is that that doesn’t actually work as an argument. It’s not all about the dancing, because if it were, then we would all show up at our events, dance around like silent robots, and then leave, fully satisfied. “The dancing” itself is even hard to pin down to one thing. Is it the individual steps that we take, or the combination of calls (the choreography) that is “the dancing”? And are simple dance combinations “the dancing” as much as complex combinations? Would the addition or removal of any particular step, call, or program change “the dancing”? Would square dancing be equally enjoyable if there was no touching? Would you still like it as much if there was no talking while dancing? No smiling? No breaks in between dances to catch up with your fellow club members? If you take any of these elements away, is it still dancing? Technically, everything other than the steps that we take and the choreography is not “the dancing”, but certainly those other parts add to the experience to make the dancing more (or less) enjoyable. And what one person thinks of as essential to “the dancing”, others may not find important at all (cf. swinging in the various levels of square dancing vs. in contra dancing).
There are many aspects of square dancing that are enjoyable and add to the overall experience. Having or not having a dress code is certainly going to please some and not others. My opinion on this topic is that there is no one dress code that will please everyone, so a compromise has to be made. One caller came up with a phrase that, I believe, works to appease an actual majority of dancers.
“Square dance attire admired, but not required.”
It even rhymes! This policy statement lets people who enjoy wearing costumes feel comfortable wearing them, and lets people who don’t enjoy wearing costumes feel fine with their choice not to wear them. Voila! Maximum potential enjoyment achieved on this issue! Note that I didn’t say that everyone will be happy, but that this policy creates a maximum number of pleased (or “not annoyed”) dancers. There will still be some uncompromising people who will think that square dancing has been ruined by either the overly strict or overly lax dress code, but I think a vast majority of people will recognize that no one issue can explain or prevent the decline in dancers, and be satisfied with this compromise.
Article in the Kings County Advertiser/Register (Nova Scotia, Canada) about square dancing.
South Berwick Woman Named Oldest Active Square Dancer in Continental America
September 3, 2014