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What is Square Dancing?

Modern Square Dancing is based on traditional American folk dancing. Groups of eight people make up a square and dance together to the beat of the music executing various steps or patterns as the Caller directs them. The Caller makes up the sequence on the fly, so the dancers have to work together as a team to execute the dance actions with precision.

Usually there is a “tip” that is about 15 minutes long. The first part of the tip is the “patter” when the caller puts on some music and provides calls for practice and instruction. This is followed by a “singing call” when the caller puts on a recognizable piece of music and sings along with it while calling. Square dancing is like solving a puzzle where there is both structure and precision. Yet there is an effortless flow to the movement. Each person has a part to play and there’s a wonderful sense of accomplishment when it all comes together in the end.

It’s SOCIAL as you dance in sync with your partner, your square, and the music, enjoy fellowship and make new friends. It’s EXERCISE as you execute a sequence of calls – walking, turning, twirling. And it’s a CHALLENGE to your brain as you learn and react in the moment, never quite sure what will come next!

But the best way to understand square dancing is to watch some of it, so feel free to visit a workshop any Tuesday night. And if you really want inspiration watch this short video showing Tech Squares doing their stuff!

Mainstream Square Dancing

SAGE is a Mainstream Dance Club and our lessons and public dances will be called at this level. The call list for MS has been defined by CallerLab and consists of the 67 calls on the list for Basic Programs 1 and 2 as well as those on the Mainstream list. Open Houses are scheduled every September and again in January and you won't need any previous dance experience to come and try it out. The first two classes are free. After that the workshops are offered every Tuesday evening 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. for a fee of $7/person. The first 45 minutes from 6:30 - 7:15 are focused on Class with a review of previous calls, teaching of new calls, and practice. After this the Caller will alternate between Class tips and MS tips for more experienced Club members. The half hour from 8:30 - 9 p.m. is reserved for Plus level dancing. The number of weeks required for an individual dancer to learn the entire program varies. Students will be eligible to graduate as soon as they meet criteria and SAGE hosts two winter dances in January and February that are specifically for new dancers so that everyone can enjoy getting into the flow at a real dance.

While it helps to have a partner, singles are welcome! Most club members dress casually. You will want to wear clothing that is comfortable to move in and you will need an extra pair of shoes that is dedicated to indoor use to protect the floor from any dirt and grit. Some dancers wear dance sneakers or dance pumps but many wear ordinary athletic shoes with dance sleeves.

Why Dance?

For those who are interested in the health benefits of dancing, the following articles may be of interest:

Learning Resources

How to succeed at learning to square dance:

  1. Attend all classes if possible.
  2. Review calls in between lessons. We all learn differently. Try out different resources such as:
    1. Video Square Dance Lessons
    2. Animated calls at TAMINATIONS
    3. create your own flash cards
    4. attend a second class offered by another club on a different day of the week
  3. Think about the characteristics of each call.
    1. How does the facing direction change? Does it stay the same? 90 degree turn? 180?
    2. With which fellow dancers are you working? Your partner, your corner, your opposite?
    3. What formation does it start in, i.e. squared set? Facing lines?
    4. What formation does it end in?
  4. Come on time and be ready to dance. Square up as soon as the music starts. The sooner we square up, the more time to dance, the more practice you get each week!
  5. Dance with a club member/angel whenever possible. It’s good to have a mix of experienced and beginner dancers so that squares don’t break down. Someone may ask you to move in order to balance the squares.
  6. Change your position in the square for each tip. If you were in the head position last tip, take a side position for the next tip.
  7. Never hesitate to ask about any calls that confuse you. The caller will be happy to clarify. Someone else may have the same question!

Additional Resources: