Square Dance History

Square dancing evolved from ancient English, Irish, and Scottish folk dances.  But don’t think that modern square dancing is outdated, with the caller sawing away at “Turkey in the Straw” on his fiddle.  More likely he’s scrolling through songs like “Pink Cadillac” and “My Horse is a Harley” on his laptop!

If you’re expecting square dancers to rival Barbie with fluffy outfits, you’re in for a surprise!  True, many dancers still enjoy the traditional short skirts, adorned with lace and buoyed out by enormous crinolines (a necessity when the caller urges, “Skirt Work!”) These vibrant “circle skirts” create a festive atmosphere.   But many ladies prefer ankle-length prairie skirts.   Best of all, dancers can wear what is comfortable, so expect to find jeans and sneakers liberally represented too!  The choice is yours!

Just wear comfy shoes and a smile!

After you’ve enjoyed the feast for your eyes, listen–to Steppenwulff, U2, Elvis, the Beatles, Tim McGraw, Gretchen Wilson, Toby Keith.   Notably absent will be corn-pone songs like ”Turkey in the Straw” and “Skip to the Lou, Mah Darling”!  Musical diversity marks modern square dancing

Modern square dancing has evolved in another way:  Starting in the 1950s, square dancing began incorporating more “calls,” the steps or figures that square dancers execute.   These calls are like a musical Simon Says!  Since modern square dance has become more sophisticated, anyone interested in learning to square dance takes lessons.  Mastering this musical sport takes time—but the new comer will be dancing from the very first night!

Actually, some of the best fun occurs when a square “breaks down” – the dancers who failed to execute the call scurry around trying to regroup so they can resume dancing.  Often they are laughing so hard that they can’t see where they’re going!  Square dancing is good exercise for the mind—and everyone knows that laughter is the best medicine!

If you can walk, you can square dance!

Experienced club dancers called “angels” are there to assist new dancers as they learn to “Ping Pong Circulate” and “Shoot the Star”!  The most important call that all square dancers perform regularly (often off the dance floor) is “Yellow Rock”—it looks just like a hug, and it epitomizes the warmth and friendliness that are hallmarks of modern square dance.

Copyright © 2016 Square Heels of Chapel Hill