Frequently Asked Questions
What is Modern Square Dancing?
Square Dancing is a social activity where eight people form a square with 2 people on each side, then dance a series of movements as “called” by the Square Dance caller. It is a healthy, recreational, fun activity. It is often said that square dancing is “Friendship Set to Music”. Dancing is done to modern music, 50’s and 60’s to 80’s and 90’s or later – from Pink Cadillac, Bill Bailey, When the Saints Come Marching In, Elvis Presley tunes, Oklahoma, etc.
What is the difference between Old Time and Modern Square Dancing?
In Old Time Square Dancing there is a set pattern followed for each dance. This never varies, no matter how often that dance is repeated. Usually the first couple executes a number of moves with each of the other couples in turn. Then the second, third, and fourth couples do the same moves with each of the other couples.
In Modern Square Dancing there are no set patterns for a dance. The dancers learn a number of moves which the caller then puts together to form the dance. The caller “calls” out these moves and the dancers execute the “calls”. The dancers do not know which moves will be called next. Usually all dancers move together, although some calls are executed by just four people.
How do Modern Square Dancers learn the movements?
Anyone can learn to become a Square Dancer by joining a Square Dance club where the basic movements are mastered. New dancers enjoy an evening of fun while being taught the movements by the caller.
What countries have Square Dance activities?
Modern Square Dancing is a worldwide activity. Square Dance calls are standardized and are called in English around the world. Once dancers have learned the calls, they can dance at any club or Square Dance event anywhere.
Are there Square Dance competitions?
There are no competitions, except that some teen clubs and adult clubs at special events may do so. Square dancing is recreational and done strictly for the fun of it.
There are various programs within the Square Dance activity, each program encompassing an increasing number of calls. Dancers move at their own pace through the programs.
They may decide to dance a certain program for an extended period of time, or they may decide to move on to the next program, learning additional calls.
The formal organisation of Modern Square Dancing
The basic unit is the local club.
Clubs may have anywhere from eight to several hundred members. However, the average club has 20 to a 100 members.
Each State and Territory has their own dancer association and many publish magazines or newsletters, sponsor special dances and events.
The National Square Dance Society of Australia is made up of members from each State or Territory and their main objective is to promote Square Dancing in Australia.
This is done by the way of funding a National Free Call Telephone number (1800 643 277) , The operation of a website (www.squaredanceaustralia.org) and the Publication of “Australian Square Dance Review”.
This is made up of mainly Convenors of past Australian National Conventions and is tasked with ensuring that there continuation of National Conventions in Australia as well as giving guidance and support to future Convention Committees.
They has put a lot of effort into establishing guidelines to ensure high quality National Conventions continue in Australia each year.
(If you want to know what running National Conventions is about, then have a look at the Guidelines as it makes very interesting reading).
The callers also have organisations at the local, national, and international levels to ensure the standardisation of calls and to help them in the planning and running of the best programs possible for the dancers.
What to Wear?
At most Clubs, neat casual is the norm although many dancers prefer to wear tradinional Square Dance attire, there is no hard and fast rule at club level, so check with your local club leader.
For Conventions, square and round dancing ladies are encouraged to a wear comfortable skirt to ensure freedom for moving.
If desired, dress may change over to shorter fuller skirts along with a crinoline, especially for square dancing.
Prairie skirts are becoming more popular. Gentlemen wear a long sleeved shirt; western or string tie is usually worn also.
Soft-soled shoes are a must for all.
For additional information check out the extract from the Convention by-laws on “Convention Dress code” Here.
Number of clubs and dancers
There are hundreds of Clubs in Australia.