Modern Square Dance: FAQS & Myth-perceptions
Movies, cartoons, something they did in school years ago (or not so long ago!) can give people a totally wrong impression of modern square dance. Check out these myths and frequently asked questions…
- Q: What exactly is square dancing?Square Dancing is one form of modern folk dance. (The others are Line, Cued Ballroom, Contra, and Clogging) Square Dancing is a sociable activity, with eight people dancing as a group. We move to the music in formations called out by a "caller". For a visual answer, check out this video
- Q: Don’t square dancers wear special period costumes? Not necessarily, and especially not for lessons. The colorful traditional costumes--crinolines and flared skirts for ladies, western wear for the men--is the image in most people's mind of "square dance", but they aren't required. Check the videos and images on our site and you'll see a wide range of attire. Casual, dressy, western, or traditional -- the choice is yours. The only actual requirement is comfortable indoor shoes that are easy to dance in and won't scuff or mark the floor.
- Myth: Square dancing is a couples-only activity.Not at all! Singles and families are welcome. At our dances, a couple usually dances the first and last dance together, then choses a variety of partners for the dances in between. Some ladies can also dance in the man's role, so it's not uncommon for two ladies to dance together. We try to make sure everyone who wants to dance has a chance to get up on the floor.
- Q: I’m not sure my son or daughter is old enough? How young is too young? Square dance is for all ages! This is a fitness and social activity where size, strength, and age bring no advantages. We've seen six-year olds who could dance as well as most adults, while pre-teens and teens tend to dance circles around us. Children must be able to listen, follow instructions, and have fun. It gives them confidence, exercise, and a mental workout (just as it does for Mom & Dad). However, we're not babysitters -- all children must be accompanied by their parents and must participate in the dancing.
- Myth: I can’t dance, I have “two left feet”.You're in luck! There is no fancy footwork to memorize or intricate patterns to follow. We simply take one "shuffle step" to each beat of the music to get where we need to go. If you can walk and listen at the same time, you can square dance.
- Q: My partner doesn’t know how to lead/follow. Can we still square dance? Wow, are you ever in luck! In Square Dance, the Caller decides the moves and each person in the group dances his or her part. Unlike in social or ballroom dance, there is no lead or follow; the group works together to complete the move.
- Myth: It’s all old-time fiddle music and rhyming couplets. Ah-ha, you've been watching Bugs Bunny in "Hillbilly Hare". Fortunately, that funny old cartoon doesn't represent modern square dance. Sure, we occasionally enjoy a yee-haw fiddle tune, but we also dance to many genres of music. See Music, Music, Music
- Q: It seems to be a kind of low-impact aerobics? It is. Square Dance burns 400 to 800 Calories per hour, boosts stamina, improves bone and heart health, and is a proven mental workout as well. All this and fun too!
- Myth: Dance classes are expensive. I can’t afford it. Naw, you must be thinking of some other kind of dancing. Square dance is affordable entertainment. Less expensive than a gym pass, going to the movies, or dinner out, an evening of square dancing is a great family outing or date night.
- Myth: It’s just for seniors. Square dance is popular with seniors because it's so affordable. Wouldn't that appeal to families on a tight budget? Of course, seniors also like it because it's a social activity, good exercise, and a great way to make friends. Again, those factors will benefit everybody!
- I had to Square Dance in school. I didn’t like it.Sorry to hear that. This isn't a myth, because your feelings are what they are. As with anything in real life versus school, square dancing is much more fun when you choose to do it. It's also more fun when you know more than the dozen calls that you learned as a child, and when you know that you won't catch "cooties". There's also a strong possibility that you'll find a professional caller more fun than your teacher back then.
- Q: I’m pretty uncoordinated and not too graceful. Can I really learn to square dance?Can you remember if you're a girl or boy? You're off to a great start! Can you tell your left from your right? You're ahead of the game (and if not, you're in good company). In many ways, Square Dance is the most forgiving of dance forms. What is important is to move around the floor in time to the music, in patterns with the other dancers, to the cues from the caller. Exactly how your feet get you there, where your arms are, your body position -- these things often don't matter much. As with any physical activity, as you learn and practice, you'll improve.
- Myth: It’s all county music. I hate country music!We hear this a lot. It's an opinion based on western movies, cartoons, and old stereotypes. Modern Square dancing is done to any music with a clear beat to follow. You'll hear rock from Elvis to Aerosmith. American standards, golden oldies, and hits from the past and present are all popular. And since square dancing is international, you'll dance to music from around the world. Sometimes a country song will be played, but we guarantee you'll survive it!
- Is it true that square dancing is done all over the world? True enough. It's popular in the western world, such as Japan, Australia, Europe, Scandinavia, America, and Canada. The calls are always in English. Websites such as Where's the Dance? can help you find a dance wherever in the world you are.
- Q: What if I love country music? Modern Square dancing is done to any music with a clear beat, and country songs tend to have a solid beat. Most dancers prefer to have a variety of music, and callers generally want to please the dancers. If you love country music, ask the caller to play a country song for you.
- Q: Do I have to wear one of those floofy skirts? It's up to you. The colorful costumes--crinolines and flared skirts for ladies, western wear for the men--are part of our tradition and heritage, and the swirl of color adds to the flow of the dance. They're worn mostly at special events and demonstrations, though many dancers wear them at lessons too. Check around our site and you'll see a wide range of attire. Casual, dressy, western, or traditional -- the choice is yours.