top of page

I've Never Square Danced Before - What's It All About?

America's Folk Dance, Square Dancing can best be summed up in one word...FUN! While very popular in years gone by Square Dancers have dwindled over the last few decades. It is now enjoying a sudden increase in popularity as whole new generations become aware of this fabulous past time.

For More Information, keep reading:

If you have never come into contact with square dancing, you are missing the fun, friendship and entertainment of participating in the original American folk dance. You participate as one of four couples in a group, executing patterns in response to the instructions of a square dance caller.

The caller exercises his/her skill by putting standard moves together so as to choreograph an interesting and entertaining dance. The dancers exercise their skill in following the caller's instructions, dancing the patterns, and especially having fun as a team.

The calls are simply instructions to those within a 'square' to move from one position to another, so that essentially, if you can walk, you can square dance. The essence of the dance is in the patterns created, so that for an individual it is not physically demanding to the same extent as some other dance forms.

Modern American square dancing consists of 4 couples (or 8 people) who form a square and execute calls (movements) from a caller. The calls used are at the discretion of the caller. All calls give the dancers a location to move to. Square dance callers can either call what is known as "patter," which is the dancers reacting to what the caller calls. There are also "singing calls," which put square dance moves to familiar music. A typical night of square dancing will feature some of both.

The leader/caller teaches individual calls rather than whole dances. Because the calls are strung together to create a dance, each time you dance it can be different from the last time.

Modern Square Dancing is standardized throughout the world. All the calls are in English and are danced the same way, no matter where you are. Wherever you travel, you can find a square dance and friends!

Is it Hard to Learn?

No. At an open house night, you'll be dancing right out of the gate.

But don't be fooled! While easy to learn, Square Dancing is great for the brain and there are increasingly challenging levels available for more ambitious dancers.

I Have Square Danced Before - What's Different About This?

Remember square dancing from your school days?   Most often those were "traditional" square dances, set to old time music with repetitive patterns. It bears some faint resemblance, but there is a lot more to it now than a simple "allemande left" and "right-and-left grand".

Modern Square Dancing is "Friendship set to Music". The square dance community is truly a circle of friends, with roots in the dance, and branches of friends throughout the world, especially since Modern Square Dancing is standardized. In fact, in some countries, (notably Germany and Japan), it has become extremely popular. All the calls remain in English and are danced the same way, no matter where you are. Wherever you travel, you can find a square dance and friends!

Why Square Dance?

There are three benefits to dancing – It’s Fun.  It’s Healthy.  It Creates a Great Social Life.

FUN – Square and Round dancing are fun activities.  Dancing isn’t a competitive sport so there is no pressure to succeed, no eligibility rules.  Square dancers laugh a lot.  If you like to get out and meet people on a regular basis, square dancing provides the opportunity.  With a basic dance program you could spend many years dancing with the friends you make at a dance club.  If the fun is in the challenge, different Square & Round clubs have multiple levels of difficulty that will keep you learning for many years.   It can be just a night out, or the challenge of a lifetime – your choice.

HEALTH -  Studies by the American National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute found that dancing lowers coronary heart disease risk, decreases blood pressure and helps in managing weight. The weight bearing movements of your dance steps can strengthen the bones of your legs and hips to maintain bone health.  Dancing increases the blood flow to the brain which aids in boosting memory.   The degree of cardio conditioning depends on how vigorously you dance, how long you dance and how frequently you dance.

Dancing’s benefits extend to mental health.   Albert Einstein College of Medicine researchers reported that people who devote their leisure time to brain enhancing activities reduce their risk of memory loss problems. Dancing was cited as one of the brain enhancing activities. Because of the complexity, speed and the listening skills required, Square and Round dancing are among the best activities to undertake.

SOCIAL – Square and Round dancers usually belong to a club in their area which have weekly dance nights where you can make friends and participate in a regular dance program.  Clubs also host special dances and other extra-social activities.  Clubs also visit other clubs to “steal” their banners which gives the “host” club a chance to visit the “banner napping” club and retrieve the banner to get interchange between clubs.

Your circle of friends in square dancing can be enormous - encompassing people from the home club, regional clubs, Northwestern American clubs, and even international visitors.  Square dancing is an international activity; as a dancer, you can find clubs in Japan, Sweden, Germany to name just a few countries.  Since all the calls and cues are in English, you can dance anywhere in the world, even if you don’t speak the local language!

What are People Who Enjoy Square Dancing Like?

Square Dancing is "Friendship set to music". And so, Square Dancers come from all walks of life: they're young and old; married and single; all races; and all ethnicities. They, our Spartan Spinners family is no exception to this pattern, and we welcome any and all friendly and good-hearted people to participate with us in square dancing and our other club activities.

What About the Music? - Is it All Country/Western?

Modern American square dancing uses all types of music. You may hear traditional country music, but you may also hear modern pop music, gospel, tunes from the 50's through today, rock and roll, and even some classical music.

What are Classes/Lessons About?

Learning to Square Dance is like learning anything else: a series of progressive lessons designed so that you learn the basic vocabulary of dancing the calls. Generally classes for the Spartan Spinners begin in September and end toward April. Occasionally Tom has progressed the dancers faster or slower than normal due to cancellations at the school etc. so graduations are not typically set for a certain date.   Sometimes, he has even had 2 sessions of classes during the year but that is not typical.  

Generally, in September the club sponsors a "meet and greet" night or "social night" for people in the community to get to know us. Then, either one or 2 of the dances are given free so people will have an idea whether they want to continue. By the second or third night, most people know if this is a recreation for them. Be warned - you probably will!

Can I Just Come and Watch First?

Absolutely. We love guests and would love to have you come and partake of our refreshments with us. 

Can I Try it Out before I Commit?

At Spartan Spinners we have the Meet and Greet Social  Dance held at the Gillepsie Center or St. James Hall before our classes begin.  Then the first and possibly the second night of classes are also free giving you a chance to try it out.

What are clubs? Do I have to join?

Square Dance clubs are autonomous organizations formed for the single purpose of holding square dances. Clubs arrange for halls, produce advertising, hire callers, hold beginner classes and promote the dance form. While no one is required to join a club, being a member allows you to be part of a social group with a common interest.

The Spartan Spinners Square Dance club was indeed formed for the purpose of holding square dances, but like others, we take pride in being part of the intimate social community that is unique to square dancers. Not only do we dance and have fun in this unique atmosphere, but we celebrate the wonderful friendships we have found here, in this and other club activities. We have a very full annual schedule, with regular first and third Saturday night dances at our club, and we take opportunities to visit other area square dance clubs as a group. Members can also take advantage of being able to participate in a variety of other club organized special events and social activities.

Check out our Events page to get an idea of some of the things we do as club members.

What if I'm Gone a Lot - Especially While Classes are On?

People have lives that keep them busy. During a lesson period it is important to attend as many sessions as possible. But depending on the individual, you may be able to miss one or two. If you think you have scheduling conflicts and are interested in taking a class, talk to the club caller or class coordinators.

In addition, there will be 'Angels' assigned to help you out during the classes, and you may wish to arrange with them to give you a little extra help, when you find yourself in the position of missing class. There are also some video resources available.

However, the very best resource is the instructor/caller and you should make every effort to attend and get the most out of the classes themselves.

Do I Need a Partner?

You do need a partner while dancing, however, some Modern Square Dance groups don't require you to bring a partner. In these groups you can attend and find dance partners there.

At Spartan Spinners , it is not mandatory to bring a partner to attend class, however it is definitely recommended, since you may find it difficult to participate fully, if there is not a good balance of men and women in attendance.

Many of the woman take class over again just to learn the men's part;  some of the woman have just learned it the hard way (on the dance floor) so they can dance as a partner to some of the women who do not have a permanent partner.   Perhaps you would be interested in doing this yourself.  

The Spinner's caller, Tom Pustinger, insists on a woman learning the woman's part first before he will teach her to do the man's part.   Many woman master both parts with no problems.

What if I have Two Left Feet? No Rhythm?  

No problem! It's more like walking in rhythm and forming patterns with the other dancers. Throw in some swinging and twirling, and some optional flourishes, and you will have a ball. Many people enjoy square dancing more than any other type of dance because it doesn't require any special footwork! If you can walk, you can square dance. All the movements are done with your hands and arms. 

What if I Need Extra Review?

Callers are always happy to explain and review calls, both during a class and during breaks. If you need additional extra review due to an extended absence, you should be able to talk to your caller and make special arrangements.

Also, in addition to your very patient class 'Angels', there are some self-help resources that can be recommended. Class coordinators may be able to help in this regard.

Check out the Resources page on this website for detailed directions for all calls and other help tips.  

Is It Expensive?

Talk about a cheap night out! Most clubs charge about $6 per person per weekly dance session.  That's less than a video rental! What do you get for that money? - 2 to 2 ½ hours of dancing and snacks and socializing.   If you are a club member, your dues are generally less than that but you do have responsibilities as a member.  

Is It a Seniors Only Activity?

The reason we see so many seniors dancing today is that they started 30 to 40 years ago - and are still dancing! So no, it isn't a seniors only activity. There are youth and teen programs, and many clubs welcome younger dancers. Many of the current Club Callers and Cuers started as youngsters and their children are in square dancing now.

Some of us took up square dancing after retirement. Many dancers are still working. We take up dancing because of the fun, it's healthy, and we love the social life!

What Do I Wear?

Traditional square dance attire is very fun, but not required. Long sleeved shirts for men and medium to longish skirts for ladies is fine. Comfortable shoes are wise.

At our Spartan Spinners dances, typical attire at dances does range from 'Western' wear to traditional Square Dance clothing, however, there is no specific required dress, and certainly for lessons, comfortable street clothing is the norm.

Where Do I Find Traditional Square Dance Attire?

There are many options including local retailers and online new and used sellers. A very popular way to inexpensively build your dance wardrobe is at our club’s frequent "recycle sales". You can also check out the options on our Resources page.

bottom of page