66th US National Keynote by Eric Henerlau

Article Type Author Last Update Description
Summary Eric Henerlau (eric@erichenerlau.com) 2017-06-28

On June 23rd, 2017 Eric Henerlau delivered an exciting keynote address at the 66th US National in Cincinnati. His remarks were heavily laced with wonderful ideas and insights for how we can go about growing our square dance activity. This written version of his speech provides an extremely valuable aggregation of ideas for recruiting, teaching, and retaining dancers. But more importantly, it provides a framework and context for adjusting our thinking and approach to make our efforts to grow our activity more productive.

You can view the text of Eric’s remarks by clicking on the button below. Or, if you would prefer to see the document in PDF form, you can click here for PDF.

Welcome to the keynote address for the 66th National Square
Dance Convention here in Cincinnati. I want to thank you for coming.
My name is Eric Henerlau, and I live near San Francisco, CA. I’ve
been calling for nearly 40 years, and I travel extensively. I also have
an active home program where I teach multiple new dancer classes every year.

Today I was asked to talk about what’s right with square
dancing. What a great way to talk about this wonderful activity!
It’s so easy to focus on the negatives, to complain, and to
tell you all the reasons why square dancing is in decline. So many
of them we have heard time and time again. However, most people
don’t like to listen to others complain about a problem just to
complain. It drains their energy.

What people like to hear are ideas and positive responses. People
like to hear what’s good and right. It lifts their spirits and
helps them move forward in the face of challenges. So today I’m
going to talk about some of those challenges in a way that we can
meet and overcome them. I’m going to share a vision of what
square could look like in the future. And finally, I’m going
to give you some ideas of how you can attract more people in to
square dancing and build your club!

When I started calling, square dance clubs were ubiquitous. New clubs
were formed and occasionally other clubs folded, and I never paid
much attention to the overall health of the activity… until
about 15 years ago. That’s when I really started to see a
decline, not only in clubs and dances, but also in callers teaching
classes. The inevitability of square dancing continuing forever
didn’t seem so inevitable. When I talked to existing dancers,
they would start listing all the reasons why they thought square
dancing was in decline. Most people seemed to be resigned to the
state of affairs, as if nothing could change the direction. They
complained they couldn’t get younger people to try square
dancing, or that the Internet or videos or two working parents or
(fill in the blank) were turning people away from classes. However,
all of these things were really symptoms of other more fundamental
issues. Here are the issues that I see we face and some ways we can
overcome them:

  • Communicating
    value.
    Square dancing has so many positive attributes: fun,
    exercise, and social connection just to name a few. The combination
    of these things is unique in square dancing. We need to let people
    know the great benefits of square dancing. We need to have them
    feel it’s worth their while and their money to try this
    activity. However, we often advertise square dancing in terms that
    emphasize “cheap” or “free” in big letters.
    If we made all square dancing free, do you think people would be
    lining up at the door to join in? Probably not. People value what
    they pay for. Psychologists and economists tell us that if we pay
    money for a product, we value that product to the level of the money
    we pay. The more we invest in the product financially, the more
    likely we will support and promote the product. Let’s set the
    value of our product (square dancing) to be commensurate with the
    joy we get out of the activity. Valuing our product fairly leads us
    to the next challenge we face.

  • Setting
    realistic financial expectations.
    Halls cost money and callers
    need to earn money. Dues and dance fees that haven’t changed
    in the past 20 years are not keeping up with the real cost of
    living. Compare costs of entertainment in your area. What does a
    movie cost? What does a set of ballroom dancing lessons cost? How
    about a set of tennis lessons? Are your dance fees in line with
    other entertainment options such as a movie or bowling? Some clubs
    have done a good job with adjusting dues and dance fees to match
    expenses. These clubs usually have a treasurer who is good with
    numbers and can calculate what the club needs to keep afloat. Have
    honest club meetings to discuss finances. Setting realistic budgets
    can be empowering, and those who really enjoy this activity will
    find ways to make the finances work. These people usually have
    great attitudes towards the club.

  • Building
    the club’s attitude.
    If the club’s energy is low,
    or members feel burned out, or if the existing dancers have little
    tolerance for new dancers, the club is struggling. Dancers may be
    going through the motions of club activities without the enthusiasm
    they once had. When this is the case, identify your members who
    have the strongest vision and call a meeting. Have these leaders
    talk about the things that make the club fun. Emphasize the value
    of new faces in the squares and what these new people will bring.
    Talk about the future of the club in one, two, and five years out.
    Inspire them to look for ideas and elicit support from the rest of
    the club. Attitude is changeable, and it starts with the leaders
    who “own” square dancing.

  • Making
    more “owners” and fewer “renters”.

    Some people participate in life as a “renter”, that is,
    paying for a service or good while they want it, then leaving that
    provider whenever they want. The whole square dancing activity can
    be looked at as a provider. However, square dancing doesn’t
    happen by itself. Square dancing is a collective effort of many
    people. People with a “renters” attitude give less
    towards the support and maintenance of square dancing. They don’t
    “own” square dancing or take responsibility for the
    long-term health of the activity. They get what they want until it
    doesn’t suit them anymore, and then complain to the club or
    quit.

    On the other hand, dancers with an “owners”
    attitude see that they are responsible for the condition of the
    club. They realize that without action on their part, the club will
    diminish. Owners take initiative and encourage others to
    participate fully. Owners understand the importance of social glue
    that keeps the club strong.

    The first step in making more
    owners is to have people self-evaluate. Can they be counted on to
    step up when needed and take on some leadership? Strong clubs
    develop efficient leadership in dancers.

  • Having a
    lean and effective board.
    How often have we heard that
    dancers don’t want to serve on the board because they don’t
    want to get involved in the politics? How about board
    members who feel they are more important just because they are on
    the board? These two attitudes are mutually exclusive, and it
    causes some board members to serve for years, while other members
    never volunteer. There is a need for administration of a club to
    keep it running smoothly. The club needs to choose callers and
    halls, advertise for classes, decide details of dances and run them.
    Is your governing body right-sized? A good board is trim and has
    only the offices it needs to run the club efficiently. A smaller
    board has fewer positions to fill.

    Make sure your board
    positions are clearly defined with a minimum of duties. Ask members
    to volunteer for the board for just a one-year commitment. Hold
    board meetings only when necessary, perhaps only four or five times
    a year. Have clear, purpose-driven agendas that make a productive
    meeting. Keep the focus on necessary club business and avoid petty
    or tangential issues. If you do this, everyone will feel the work
    is worthwhile instead of wasteful. Be sure to solicit input from
    your caller.

  • Including
    the caller on the board.
    If your club has a regular caller, use
    him or her for advice and guidance. The caller sees many things
    from the stage that dancers don’t see and is a thread of
    continuity in the board when club leaders change. The caller
    usually has experience with other clubs and their methods. The
    caller can draw from the body of knowledge that is shared with other
    callers and provide counsel and expertise.

  • Embracing
    the attitude of growth.
    Some people believe that when their
    club reaches a certain size they no longer need to grow. They
    believe they are big enough, and that any more people would be a
    problem (hall size, personal connections, etc.) Many years ago the
    president of a club I called for dismissed the idea of a beginner
    class because the club had 40 members and that, according to him,
    was big enough. He didn’t want to bother with growing the
    club any bigger until we lost members. In reality, we must always
    focus on growing. Marketing and recruiting new dancers
    should be a permanent year-round activity. There should never be a
    time when we decide we have enough dancers. During any dance
    season, a club is either growing or shrinking. No club is ever
    static. The moment we stop efforts to grow is the moment we start
    dwindling.

  • Believing
    there are plenty of people interested in square dancing.
    There
    are 300 million people living in the United States. Almost all of
    them don’t square dance – yet! This is a huge pool of
    untapped potential dancers. Some club members who have scarcity
    thinking believe there is only a small group of people who might be
    interested in learning to square dance. They find themselves in
    competition with other groups in attracting new dancers. Once a new
    beginner has started dancing, the club may be reluctant to encourage
    the person to dance with other groups for fear of losing him or her.
    To these club leaders, the new dancers are a scarce commodity that
    must be protected from other groups. Scarcity thinkers have a fixed
    mindset.

    In contrast, leaders who have abundance thinking
    believe there is an endless supply of people who would like to try
    square dancing. They see that for every personality type, age, sex,
    and demographic in their club there are hundreds more just like them
    that want to join in the fun. They never stop finding ways to reach
    out to those groups of people. Abundance thinkers believe the
    supply of possible new dancers is unlimited. Abundance thinkers
    have a growth mindset.

These challenges can be worked through and overcome. The way we see and experience square dancing may change as a result. Here are some
examples of what the future of the activity could look like:

  • A new group of callers steps up. They may not have all the skills of seasoned
    callers, but new and existing dancers connect with them and support
    them in their efforts.

  • Groups get creative about where they dance. Beyond the customary church halls
    and schools, groups find they can dance in vacant stores, people’s
    garages or living rooms, or on patios and decks when weather
    permits. In exchange for advertising, groups get local businesses
    to sponsor them or provide dance venues.

  • More Basic and Mainstream groups are created, giving dancers more options for
    dancing. Instead of pushing dancers through the programs, callers
    find more ways to use the Basic and Mainstream calls creatively, and
    dancers go to the dances because they are fun!

  • Square dance clubs partner with line dance, contra dance, and other dance groups,
    or square dance evenings are shared with other non-dance activities.
    People will come to square dance and do other things, so less
    emphasis is placed exclusively on square dancing. Square dancing is
    just part of an evening’s entertainment. People create clubs
    that hold a variety of social activities, with perhaps only some
    members square dancing.

  • Callers make more use of technology to reach remote dancers. Callers use Skype
    or social media to call to groups too remote to have a caller.
    Recordings of teaching modules or mini-dances are sent to remote
    groups for practice.

  • The music and sound systems become more contemporary. The speakers and amplifiers
    are on par with what is used by professional DJs. Spectators
    recognize the music as current songs from the radio.

How will these changes occur? There two possible paths. The first is
that forward-thinking clubs will see the future and embrace the
coming changes. They will realize they must adapt to today’s
society to keep square dancing relevant. They will modify their club
policies about everything from dress code to lesson requirements to
callers’ participation. They will expand their idea of what a
square dance club is to include other activities.

The other possibility is that the existing clubs will continue as they
are and eventually fold. The callers and dancers will be content
with stasis, and eventually the clubs will shrink and cease
operations. In their place, new groups will be formed with new
callers and dancers who don’t have the historical context.
These groups will bring a new paradigm for square dancing without
having the institutional thinking of the legacy groups. Culture and
style will be newly created, and a new art form will arise. Either
of these paths will involve getting new dancers.

How can we get more people into square dancing? This is the question
we’ve been asking ourselves for a long time. We know there is
no silver bullet; if there were, we would have discovered it by now
and the halls would be overflowing. We do know that
marketing, promotion, recruitment, and retention take effort, and
that our results will be directly proportional to the effort applied.
However, even the best efforts can yield poor results if we are not
communicating effectively. Achieving better results starts with an
understanding of who we are and what we are willing to change in
order to adapt. Here are my suggestions to start the process:

  • Decide
    what you are going to offer.
    What are you offering to people?
    Fun or long-term commitment to an unknown activity? Basic,
    Mainstream, or Plus destinations? Social community or academic
    lessons? If what you’re offering isn’t working,
    consider changing it. People who don’t square dance are not
    keen on making a long-term commitment to an activity they don’t
    know if they will enjoy. Connect with people on a social level.
    Build relationships around fun, and then include square dancing as
    part of the relationship.

  • Target
    your audience age group.
    People generally socialize with other
    people who are less than five years older or younger than they are.
    If you want to bring in younger dancers, target your marketing
    efforts to people who are five years younger than the average age of
    your club. If the club’s average age is 70, don’t try
    to recruit 30 or 40 year olds – they won’t be
    interested. As an activity, we’ve been aging up over several
    decades. Aging down will be a gradual process for many existing
    clubs. It will take effort and focus. In some cases, entirely new
    clubs may need to be formed with a younger demographic.

  • Focus on
    your club’s personality and strengths.
    Who are you as a
    club? Are you mostly working-age adults or retirees? Singles or
    couples? Do you all attend the same church? Are you traditionalists
    or casual in your approach to dancing? Does your club do only
    square dancing or also include other social activities? The culture
    of a group tends to indicate the type of people it will attract. If
    you want to attract a different demographic, have the club discuss
    the changes needed in its culture. Different groups will attract
    different kinds of people.

  • Find ways
    to be more inclusive
    . Does your club welcome singles? People
    of different skin colors or religions? People with different sexual
    orientation? Just like other activities, many square dance clubs
    have unspoken cultural attitudes that set the social norms for the
    group. These attitudes can be helpful when recruiting people who
    fit the same norms as your group, but they can also be a barrier to
    others who would like to participate but don’t feel like they
    fit in. Look for areas in your club’s culture that may make
    new dancers feel less welcome and discuss what you can do to change
    these areas.

  • Don’t
    be everything to everyone!
    A respected business leader once
    said, “If you’re everything to everyone, you’re
    nothing to anyone.” This holds just as true for square
    dancing as it does for business. We all like to say that square
    dancing is for everyone regardless of age or ability. It’s a
    great thing that so many people can participate in this activity,
    but when we talk about square dancing and offering it to the public,
    we need to narrow our focus to our target audience. Understand
    whom you are trying to attract. A person who hears that square
    dancing is for anyone, and anyone can square dance, is the same
    person who thinks “I’m not just anyone, I have special
    qualities and interests, so this is not for me”. Instead,
    consider focusing on a demographic that is in sync with your group:

      • People who want a social activity

      • People who want exercise

      • People who are interested in trying something unusual or different

      • People who like puzzles and games

      • People who like to travel

      • People who are single or whose partners don’t dance

Even though you are focusing on your target audience, avoid
exclusionary practices that would turn away a potential dancer that
is not part of your target. For example, if you are primarily a
couples-oriented club and a single dancer shows up for lessons, have
a plan to accommodate that person. That person may be the next
enthusiast in the group who contributes to the activity. Find a
place for everyone who expresses an interest.

  • Rethink
    Plus or even Mainstream as a destination for new dancers
    . Last
    year Jerry Story gave an impassioned address about the problems with
    pushing people through too many calls too quickly. He advocated the
    Club 50 program and other similar programs. Some areas of the
    country are experimenting with the 12-week condensed teaching order
    and other smaller lists. Both the Basic and Mainstream programs
    have plenty of variety in their calls, and a skilled caller can use
    these programs to make an entertaining dance for everyone. He or
    she can make the choreography simple and easy or complex and
    challenging without using extra calls. Consider a destination
    program that is shorter and easier to learn, allowing new dancers to
    reach a level of proficiency more quickly.

  • Shift the
    focus from calls to people.
    We tend to emphasize learning a
    bunch of calls to get through the list or program, just so we can
    learn the next set of calls on the next list, etc. Instead, your
    club could make its top priority meeting, socializing, and having
    fun. When the people are more important than the
    calls, groups thrive. New dancers feel more welcome and are more
    likely to return. Experienced dancers enjoy dancing with new people
    as much as being entertained or challenged by the caller.

  • Redefine
    success.
    What is success in square dance lessons? What makes a
    beginner class worthwhile? How long must a new dancer continue
    dancing for you to consider the class a success? Some people
    believe that if the new dancers don’t stay square dancing for
    life then the class was not successful. What if a dancer learns to
    dance and continues dancing for a year or two and then leaves? Is
    that not a form of success? Are we expecting too much from people
    who don’t stay involved for a long period? While some people
    join the activity and do stay for a long time, others will enjoy
    dancing for a while, and then move on. If you consider that
    recruiting effort to be a failure because the person isn’t
    still dancing, then the club’s morale will be compromised.
    Alternatively, if you consider the class a success because there was
    a period of time when the people were in a square, then you can
    build on those efforts and tailor your program around those dancers.
    We all know that many dancers who stop dancing come back again at a
    later date. When this happens, be sure to keep that person on a
    follow up list for future classes or dances.

  • Talk about
    what’s good about square dancing.
    Have a real discussion
    in your club. Underscore your strengths. What is it about your
    club that makes people want to return each week, each month, each
    year? People come for a reason, because square dancing fulfills
    something in their lives. Have your club members articulate those
    reasons. It will get them excited and inspire them to share with
    others who are not square dancing yet.

  • Develop
    community service outreach.
    While square dancing is fun in
    itself, the people involved in the club can also make a difference
    in their local community. Probably some are already volunteering
    time or money to local non-profits. Is there a way to connect the
    club or local dancers with a non-profit or charity? Can you
    organize the club to contribute time or money to a charity and get
    some visibility for square dancing? Not only will your club feel
    good about what they are doing, but non-dancers can bond with club
    members on a different level. The more connections you can make
    with the public, the easier your class marketing efforts will be.

  • Initiate
    cooperative marketing with clubs in your area.
    It takes a lot
    of effort for one club working independently to recruit new dancers.
    Instead of going it alone, talk to other local groups who want to
    grow. Working together, each club can leverage the others’
    skills, resources, and labor to attract people into dancing. The
    visibility of square dancing will increase exponentially. These
    efforts can be coordinated through your local association or
    federation. If your governing organization is not interested in a
    coordinated marketing effort (or other factors make doing so
    ineffective), then create an informal group of clubs who want to
    make a difference. Form small teams from each club who are willing
    to meet periodically to share ideas and work on joint projects.

  • Experiment
    with different marketing techniques.
    There are many ways to
    advertise for your classes: flyers, postcards, newspapers, lawn
    signs, placemats, community outreach events, and Internet ads, just
    to name a few. Try as many as the club has energy and money to
    support. Track your return on investment, but don’t give up
    on any one method if you don’t see immediate results. What
    doesn’t work this time may work well next time.

  • Think big,
    think new.
    Do you remember the children’s book The
    Little Engine That Could
    ? The mantra that kept that engine
    going up the hill was “I think I can! I think I can!”
    The Little Engine took on the challenge of climbing the hill, and
    instead of letting her limitations stop her, she persevered with
    focus and commitment until she was successful. The Little Engine
    thought BIG and NEW. How can your club think bigger or in a newer
    way? What outrageous ideas can you come up with for building your
    club? When you embark on a new project, believe what you’re
    doing will work. Commit to your plans fully. The quickest way to
    failure is not having faith in your efforts. That
    subconscious message of “not believing” will undermine
    your work and almost certainly guarantee disappointment. Instead,
    commit and put the energy into your plans without hesitation.

  • Think
    strategically.
    Where do you see the club in the future? Not
    just for your tenure in the activity, but beyond into the next
    generation of dancers? Do you have a goal for the club and its
    growth? Be willing to adapt to the 21st century world for
    square dancing. Create a vision of your club at milestones in the
    future: 2018, 2020, and 2025. Make plans; think about what’s
    possible even if it seems impossible. Enroll other dancers
    in looking ahead.

  • ALWAYS
    look ahead and avoid dwelling on the past
    . It doesn’t do
    any good to talk about how many squares there used to be at dances,
    how many dances were held, how big the beginner classes used to be,
    and the like. All this is just negative thinking. NO ONE likes to
    hear that yesterday was better than today. We all want to believe
    that today is great and that tomorrow will be even better.
    Suggesting anything different, whether or not it’s true, is a
    sure-fire way to discourage someone new to square dancing. That
    person will think he or she missed the glory days and start to take
    a dim view the current state of affairs. His or her dancing career
    may be shortened – after all, why learn an activity you
    perceive as dying? Instead, keep the focus on how great you can
    build on what you have: classes, activities, and fun. Inspire
    people to look forward to good times in the club, regardless of how
    many people are dancing.

  • Recruit
    and support the next generation of callers.
    The activity cannot
    survive unless there are new callers coming up the ranks. Encourage
    every young dancer to call a tip or singing call. Create an
    environment that would foster the calling “bug” in
    someone. Encourage that person to go to an accredited callers
    school. Give him or her opportunities to call and teach. Enable
    these new callers by fully supporting their efforts. These people
    will be the leaders of tomorrow. Help cultivate them now!

  • Support
    motivated club leaders.
    These people may or may not be on the
    board, but they are “movers and shakers,” people who are
    inspirational, have energy, and get things done. If they have an
    idea that would benefit the club, give them what they need to run
    with it. Let them lead the rest of the club in something new. Even
    if you’re not feeling like a leader, support the people in
    your group who have the energy and let them do the job.

  • Partner
    with your local callers
    and callers association. If
    there are any restrictions on how your organizations can work
    together, remove the restrictions. Have dancers and callers serve
    together in organizations that promote square dancing. Form a tight
    teamwork relationship with your club caller. If you don’t
    have a club caller, enlist local callers whom you respect. Solicit
    their advice. Listen to the issues they see from their side of the
    microphone. Most callers have a vested interest in attracting and
    retaining dancers. They can see what works and what needs
    improvement, even if it’s not popular or goes against
    tradition. Be open to suggestions, and then partner together to
    create solutions.

  • Involve
    the club caller financially.
    Structure the caller’s
    compensation to have some correlation with dance attendance. This
    makes the caller have a reason to attract as many people as possible
    to classes and dances. He or she is more motivated to teach and
    call in ways that retain the most dancers. Callers should take an
    active role in the club’s marketing efforts.

  • Run more
    than one class per year.
    Running only one class each year is
    not very effective. The non-dancing public expects multiple entry
    points to any recreational activity. It’s very bad PR to tell
    a person interested in learning that he or she must wait 9, 10, or
    11 months before another class will be offered. It’s highly
    unlikely that person will return. Many groups have redesigned their
    teaching program and are successfully running multiple beginner
    classes each year. Experiment with multiple entry points and
    overlap the classes to allow the club members and new dancers to
    mix.

  • Use
    technology.
    Technology is available in multiple forms to help
    you grow square dancing. If you are uncomfortable or unfamiliar
    with the variety of technologies in use, find someone in your group
    who can step in and do some of the work. Often the caller can help
    out as he or she may be using the various tools.

    • Website.
      If your club’s website is out of date, have someone volunteer
      to keep it updated. It’s a bad sign to visit a club’s
      homepage to find out about all the dances coming up in 2006…
      If you don’t have a website, get one! They cost from $0 to
      $1000, depending on how robust you want it. Several companies
      offer free websites and website tools in exchange for advertising
      on the side. The club’s homepage should be designed for the
      non-dancing public. When a visitor lands on the homepage, the site
      should communicate the social and fun aspects of the club, along
      with when the next class will start. All other club information
      and business can be on other parts of the site. The homepage is
      the most critical for a new prospect.

    • Facebook.
      Keep your Facebook page up to date with current and relevant club
      activities. Facebook and your club’s website are the
      public’s perception of who you are. Anyone considering
      joining your class or club will visit the website and Facebook page
      first – make sure they are attractive and inviting.

    • Email
      distribution lists.
      Use email group lists for communications
      within your club. Be clear, and concise with club communications
      so that everyone is fully informed. These emails strengthen social
      bonding. Your web hosting service may provide email groups; if
      not, Yahoo and Google both provide this service for free.

    • Google
      phone number.
      Get a unique phone number for your club that you
      can give out to people. Google offers phone numbers for free, and
      you can have any incoming call to that number redirected to a
      person who is designated to receive it. This allows the leadership
      in a club to change while still keeping the same club phone number.
      It also keeps personal phone numbers private.

    • Twitter/Snapchat/Instagram.
      You can use these to send out news and pictures about the club,
      club events, and recent activities.

    • Free or
      near-free online services.
      Use Craigslist, local “patch”
      news sites, meetup.com, etc.

    • Groupon,
      Living Social and other web-based coupons.
      Some clubs have had
      success in using promotional coupons through the Internet. Explore
      this avenue to see if it may work for your club.

    • Prospects
      database.
      Once you get a person who is interested in learning
      to square dance, capture that person’s name/email/city and
      phone number and put it in a database (spreadsheet or document).
      Use an email processing tool to send out email invitations to your
      prospects for upcoming classes.

    • Ads and
      keywords.
      Both Google and Facebook have abilities to promote
      your classes when people use certain keywords to search. Look for
      keywords that someone might enter that would make that person a
      square dance prospect. Bid on and buy those keywords, so that when
      a person enters them, your ad is displayed on the sidebar.

Finally, the most important thing you can do to grow your club: have
the right attitude!

  • The number one key to success: Attitude. A club that truly wants to grow
    will find a way to grow. The members will generate enthusiasm that
    is infectious. People want to be around people who are happy and
    having fun. Capture that attitude and do whatever is necessary to
    bring people in the door. Some groups say they want a class but
    then can’t get enough beginners to justify it. Other clubs
    run successful classes and grow. What’s the difference
    between these groups? ATTITUDE! Those groups who are excited and
    happy about coming to a dance create an energy that attracts others.
    They exude fun and friendliness that make others happy. They don’t
    have to remember to smile – they are already smiling!

Summary:

So, what’s right with square dancing? Every person might have
a different way that square dancing appeals to him or her:

    • Social activity with friends

    • Community

    • Exercise

    • Mental stimulation, brain exercise

    • Respite from the anxiety in the world today

There are so many ways square dancing is the right activity right
now. We all know that people would love this activity if they tried
it. The call for action is now. Get the whole club involved. Make
it fun. Seek out and find success stories from other clubs and
callers. There is a wealth of information on the Internet on
marketing ideas; however, resources are useless without action.
Inspire and motivate your club to take action. Keep emphasizing all
the reasons why square dancing is right for everyone. Your classes
will be more successful, your club will grow, and square dancing will
continue to be the best entertainment for people all over the world.



Learning To Dance Without a Caller

Article Type Author Last Update Description
Summary Julian Pritchard (julian.pritchard@orange.fr) 2017-06-11

We dance in two clubs which have no caller (actually, most of the clubs in France have no caller). We study the calls and then teach them; then we use pre-recorded training material to compensate for the lack of a “real” caller. All the material referenced below comes with texts files enabling you to walk-thru the material when your square crashes. In some cases we have transcribed tracks where text was not provided and people can always contact me for a copy.

(Open the tab below to read the full article.)

We dance in two clubs which have no caller (actually, most of the clubs in France have no caller). We study the calls and then teach them; then we use pre-recorded training material to compensate for the lack of a “real” caller. All the material referenced below comes with texts files enabling you to walk-thru the material when your square crashes. In some cases we have transcribed tracks where text was not provided and people can always contact me for a copy. The best programmes we have found so far are:

BASIC intro – Traveling Hoedowners (USA):

We start our BASIC class using the Travelling Hoedowners Instant Hoedown DVD/CD set. This starts from zero dancer knowledge and works thru the first part of the BASIC programme in 10 lessons with alternate Patters (11) and Singing Calls (12). Cost is 30 USD. We find it works very well. See: http://travelinghoedowners.com….. We only use the CD part but it comes with a DVD showing all the patters/dances so you can look to see how it should be performed if you have any doubts. The Traveling Hoedowners also do an excellent set of BASIC/MS/PLUS reference DVDs explaining and showing each call performed by a Square filmed from above. This was a tremendous aid to us when we started-out.

BASIC – Tomas Hedberg (Sweden):

… after that we swap to the Tomas Hedberg BASIC teaching CDs set which covers the entire Basic programme in 29 sessions of patter+singing calls. The actual callers on the latest version are Bronc Wise (USA) and Thomas Hedberg (Sweden). The cost is 2000 SEK (approx. 230 USD). More information is available from Tomas Hedberg email: caller@caloham.se. (He doesn’t have a website).

MAINSTREAM – Tomas Hedberg (Sweden):

We use the Tomas Hedberg MAINSTREAM teaching CDs set which covers the entire MS programme in 16 sessions of patter+singing calls. The actual caller on the latest version is Thomas Hedberg (Sweden). The cost is 1250 SEK (approx. 140 USD). More information is available from Tomas Hedberg email: caller@caloham.se. (He doesn’t have a website).

PLUS/A1/A2 – Stefan Sidholm (Sweden):

We use the Stefan Sidholm teaching CDs sets:

PLUS: –
71 tracks of patter+singing calls covering the whole programme. The actual caller on the latest version is Stefan Sidholm (Sweden).
A1: –
71 tracks of patter+singing calls covering the whole programme. The actual caller on the latest version is Stefan Sidholm (Sweden).
A2: –
69 tracks of patter+singing calls covering the whole programme. The actual caller on the latest version is Stefan Sidholm (Sweden).

You can get more info from: stefan@sidholm.com. (He doesn’t have a website). The cost is 155 euros (approx.. 170 USD) per level plus postage (discount available if provided on one DVD in mp3 format) (further discount available if you buy more than one level at a time.

C1/C2 – Tony Collingwood (UK):

Tony has C1 and CD teaching material which you can download from his website for free (https://sites.google.com/site/pacesettersuk/home). Contact: tcpace@gmail.com. He also does Two-Couple teaching/practice material from MS thru C3B.

(See also the full KnowledgeBase article on Tony’s recordings here. )



Collection Of Marketing and Recruiting Articles

Article Type Author Last Update Description
Summary Claudia Littlefair (claudia.littlefair@gmail.com) 2017-05-25

Claudia Littlefair is the editor of the Alberta Chatter newsletter. This edition provides a wonderful compilation of a number of articles dealing with advertising, marketing, promotion, and recruiting. You can see the table of contents for the edition below. Follow the link to access the newsletter.

Read Newsletter ….

Newsletter Table of Contents

Name of Article Page
1. No ‘One-Shot Wonders’ in Advertising – by Mike Hogan …..……………………………..……. 2
2. *New* CALLERLAB Resources: Teaching; Knowledgebase; Dances ………………….……… 3
3. A Lesson In Marketing – Producing An Effective Print Ad – by Brian Elmer ….………….. 4
4. *New* Canadian Society Pinterest Account ………………………………………………………..…… 6
5. Marketing On-Line ………………………………………………………………………………………………..…. 6
6. The Off-Season …………………………………………………………………………………………………..……. 7
7. Favorite Website Picks for Promotional Ideas ………………………………………………………..… 8
8. Recruitment – by Tim Marriner …………………………………………………………………………..….… 9
9. Rocky Mountain House’s Success Story – by Doreen Guilloux …..……………………………. 10
10. ‘Winning Ways’ Success Story – New Jersey Rutgers, Ken Robinson ………………………. 12
11. Selling the “Why” ………………………..………………………………………………………………………….. 13
12. What Sells – Facts or Benefits? …………..…………………………………………………………………… 14
13. Signs Speak Volumes …………………………..………………………………………………………………….. 15
14. Summer Demos – by Mike Seastrom …………..………………………………………………………….. 16
15. Writing a News Release, “The Modern Square Dance Image” CALLERLAB, 1978 ……… 17
16. Who’s Your Target – by Mike Hogan ………………………………….…………………………………… 18
17. On-Line Articles Bring In 20 New Dancers ……………………………………………………………….. 19
18. Why Fax? ……………………………………….……………………………………………………………………..… 20
19. Marketing To Baby Boomers …………….……………………………………………………………………… 21
20. Today’s Square Dancer – Do We Have An Image Issue? …………….…………………………….. 22
21. Successful Square Dance Recruiting – Does It Exist? by Patrick Demerath ……….………. 24


Bob Brundage Interviews

Article Type Author Last Update Description
Summary Barry Clasper 2017-04-14

This summary article contains a table (see below) that contains links to the interviews that Bob Brundage did with a wide variety of notable people in the square dance community. These interviews represent a huge project for which Bob was awarded the CALLERLAB Milestone award in 2012. Both audio files and written transcripts are provided. Listening to these interviews provides a unique and personal vantage point on some of the seminal developments in square dance history.

You can see the list of interviews in alphabetical order by clicking on the button below labelled “Table of Interviews”. To view the materials for a specific interview just click on the interview name in the table revealed below. The actual files reside on the website of the Square Dance Foundation of New England at http://www.sdfne.org.

Interview
Armstrong, Don: SIO Hall of Fame
Bailey, Hillie: SDFNE Hall of Fame
Baird, Pancho & Marie
Baker, Clark: SDFNE Hall of Fame
Bates, Red
Belanger, Jim
Bishop, Charlie
Brodeur, Cliff
Brown, Ginger (husband Lou deceased): SDFNE Hall of Fame
Brozek, Allan
Brundage, Al & Bob (Early days)
Brundage, Al History Presentation
Brundage, Al: SIO Hall of Fame, CALLERLAB Milestone, NE Yankee Clipper, SDFNE Hall of Fame
Brundage, Bob: CALLERLAB Milestone, CALLERLAB Award of Excellence
Burdick, Cathie: SDFNE Hall of Fame
Burdick, Stan: CALLERLAB Milestone, SDFNE Hall of Fame
Campbell, Cal
Casey, Joe: NE Yankee Clipper, SDFNE Hall of Fame
Ceder, Vic & Debbie
Clark, Bryan
Cocke, Enid
Collipi, Ralph & Joan: ROUNDALAB Silver Halo, NE Yankee Clipper
Dalsemer, Bob
Davis, Bill & Bobbie: CALLERLAB Milestone
Deck, Decko CALLERLAB Milestone
Dixon, Anna Keenan: NE Yankee Clipper, SDFNE Hall of Fame
Dixon, Mil: NE Yankee Clipper, SDFNE Hall of Fame
Driver, Wade: CALLERLAB Milestone
Easterday, Irv & Betty: ROUNDALAB Silver Halo
Edelman, Larry
Egender, Herb: CALLERLAB Milestone
Flippo, Marshall: SIO Hall of Fame, CALLERLAB Milestone
Foote, Ed: CALLERLAB Milestone
Forsyth, Max
Garvey, Kip
Gilmore, Ed
Golden, Cal: SIO Hall of Fame, CALLERLAB Milestone
Goodbody, Roland
Gotta, Betsy & Roy: CALLERLAB Milestone
Greene, Patty
Greenleaf, Lisa
Griffin, Culver
Haag, Jerry: CALLERLAB Milestone
Hass, Dave: NE Yankee Clipper, SDFNE Hall of Fame
Helsel, Lee & Mary: SIO Hall of Fame, CALLERLAB Milestone
Helt, Jerry & Kathy: SIO Hall of Fame, CALLERLAB Milestone
Hendrickson, Chip
Hendron, John: SDFNE Hall of Fame
Heyman, Bill: CALLERLAB Milestone
Hilton, Jim & Dottie: CALLERLAB Milestone
Holden, Rickey
Houle, Lennie & Connie: NE Yankee Clipper, SDFNE Hall of Fame
Howell, Bob: CALLERLAB Milestone
Jennings, Larry
Johnson, Bruce: SIO Hall of Fame, CALLERLAB Milestone
Johnston, Bill
Johnston, Earl: SIO Hall of Fame, CALLERLAB Milestone, NE Yankee Clipper, SDFNE Hall of Fame
Jones, Fenton (Jonesy): SIO Hall of Fame, CALLERLAB Milestone
Jones, Jon: CALLERLAB Milestone
Juaire, Ed: SDFNE Hall of Fame
Kaltenthaler, John: CALLERLAB Milestone
Kopman, Lee: CALLERLAB Milestone
Kronenberger, Arnie: SIO Hall of Fame, CALLERLAB Milestone
Lane, Frank: SIO Hall of Fame, CALLERLAB Milestone
Laufman, Dudley
LeClair, Johnny: SIO Hall of Fame, CALLERLAB Milestone
Leger, Dick: SIO Hall of Fame, CALLERLAB Milestone, NE Yankee Clipper, SDFNE Hall of Fame
Livingston, Bob
Lovett Hall (Dave Taylor)
Luttrell, Melton: SIO Hall of Fame, CALLERLAB Milestone
Mabie, Michelle
Macey, Cem (Father Joseph Hugh Macey deceased)
Mackin, Everett
Maczko, Jim
Mallard, Martin: CALLERLAB Milestone
Marriner, Tim
Marshall, John
Matthews, Osa: CALLERLAB Milestone
Mayo, Jim: SIO Hall of Fame, CALLERLAB Milestone, NE Yankee Clipper, SDFNE Hall of Fame
McClure, Veronica
Millstone, David
Moore, Brent (wife Mickey deceased): ROUNDALAB Silver Halo
Moore, Dick & Erna
Moore, Paul
Morin, Lori
Morningstar, Glen
Morse, Wayne
Murtha, Jack: CALLERLAB Milestone
Nelson, Ron
Osgood, Bob & Becky: SIO Hall of Fame, CALLERLAB Milestone
Oxendine, Tony: CALLERLAB Milestone
Page, Nita (husband Bob deceased): SIO Hall of Fame, CALLERLAB Milestone
Page, Randy
Palmquist, Eddie & Audrey: ROUNDALAB Silver Halo
Parkes, Tony
Patton, Gardner: CALLERLAB Milestone
Peters, Bill: CALLERLAB Milestone
Piper, Dr. Ralph: CALLERLAB Milestone
Reed, Jerry
Reel, Rich
Riggs, Bob
Ritucci, Ken
Roth, Gloria Rios: CALLERLAB Milestone, SDFNE Hall of Fame
Rutty, Ed: SDFNE Hall of Fame
Sargent, Don
Schneider, Ron
SDFNE Board # 1
SDFNE Board # 2
Seastrom, Mike
Severance, Dick: NE Yankee Clipper, SDFNE Hall of Fame
Sheffield, Elmer
Shepherd, Art: CALLERLAB Milestone
Shukayr, Nasser
Smith, Nita (husband Manning deceased): SIO Hall of Fame, CALLERLAB Milestone, ROUNDALAB Silver Halo
Stevens, Al: CALLERLAB Milestone
Story, Jerry
Sweet, Ralph
Taylor, Dave: SIO Hall of Fame, CALLERLAB Milestone
Tirrell, Doc & Peg: ROUNDALAB Silver Circle
Van Antwerp, Bob: SIO Hall of Fame, CALLERLAB Milestone
Wagner, Dale
Warrick, Red
Weaver, Buddy
Wedge, Johnny: NE Yankee Clipper, SDFNE Hall of Fame
Williamson, Don
Wylie, Norma (husband Wayne deceased): ROUNDALAB Silver Halo



CALLERLAB Program Documents

Article Type Author Last Update Description
Summary Barry Clasper (barry@clasper.ca) 2017-08-20

This summary points to the primary program-related documents that have been officially published by CALLERLAB. This includes program lists, call definitions, timing charts, lesson checklists, teaching tips, and other materials. Click on the appropriate button below to see a list of materials for the program indicated. Click on the name of the document to access it.

Program Document Tables (click to view)

Document Name Revision Date
Advanced List 2016-12-21
Advanced Definitions 2017-02-22
A1 Checklist 2016-12-21
A2 Checklist 2012-09-13
Advanced Timing Chart 2015-12-15
What Is Advanced Dancing Booklet ????

Document Name Revision Date
C1 List 2016-09-26
C1 Definitions 2017-03-19
C2 List 2016-12-21
C2 Definitions 2016-12-21
C3A List 2017-07-22
C3A Definitions 2017-07-18
Challenge Teaching Orders 2012-02-10


Media Articles on Square Dancing

Article Type Author Last Update Description
Summary Barry Clasper 2017-07-05

This summary article contains a table (see below) that points to a number of media articles about square dancing or people involved in square dancing. They frequently contain information useful in the promotion of square dancing. The articles are initially sorted by publication date and location of story, however you may sort on any column by clicking on the small up/down arrows in the column header. Click on the Article Title to see the article text.

This table points to 36 media articles. Last update was 22 May 2017.

Publication Date Publication Name Location Article Title Comments
1989-01-22 phili.com Philadelphia, PA Only The Dancing Is Square Reporter’s story on how square dancing wasn’t what he expected
2002-09-15 New York Times New York, NY Swing Your Partner and Try to Remember All Those Steps General article on square dancing
2007-12-10 Chicago Tribune Chicago, IL New generation of square dancers intrigued by its math concepts Students discover the puzzles and math underlying Challenge square dancing
2013-05-04 Regina Leader-Post Regina, SK Dancing the test of time History of square dancing in Saskatchewan.
2013-09-03 Fairfield Ledger Fairfield, IA The Square Dance Revival in Fairfield Square dance resurgence in Fairfield, Iowa
2014-01-01 Iowa Source Fairfield, IA Jerry Story’s Calling Profile on Jerry Story
2014-05-09 KQED News Blog Berkeley, CA Abstract Math Concepts Spring to Life at UC Square Dancing Club Student dancing at UC Berkeley
2014-07-24 Daily Xtra Ottawa, ON Allemande left, do-si-do Profile of Date Squares in Ottawa, Ontario
2014-07-24 Marin Independent Journal San Rafael, CA Square dancing club keeps twirling in San Rafael Profile of dancing at Tam Twirlers
2014-08-21 Nevada Appeal Carson City, NV A brief history of square dancing
2014-08-22 KQED News Blog Fresno, CA World’s Oldest Square Dance Caller Keeps Central Valley Dancing Profile on Ernie Kinney
2014-09-02 Comox Valley Echo Comox, BC Square dancing makes you smarter and healthier Discussion of health benefits
2014-09-07 Daily Telegram Adrian, MI Square dancing club offers family-friendly fun, fitness for all ages Discusses health and social benefits of belonging to Maple City Swingers
2014-09-07 Estevan Lifestyles Estevan, SK They love to call a good dance Discussion of health benefiits of square and round dancing
2014-09-08 Journal News Martinsburg, WV Group provides fresh take on square dancing Chronicles the story of a new club forming.
2014-09-08 Daily Courier Prescott, AZ Square-dancers try to rebuild 60-year-old club Profile of Mile-Hi Squares efforts to rebuild their club.
2014-09-14 Camarillo Acorn Camarillo, CA Square dancing is far from being square Buckles and Bows Square Dance Club is undergoing a resurgence in popularity
2014-09-14 Tallahassee Democrat Tallahassee, FL Square dance calling takes Elmer Sheffield to faraway places Profile of Elmer Sheffield and his recent trip to Japan
2015-01-22 Tullahoma News Tullahoma, TN Don’t be a square – dance! Profile of Estill Springers Square Dance Club and general info on square dancing.
2015-03-05 Newsday New York, NY Square dance legend on LI still has the moves Profile of Lee Kopman
2015-03-16 Medical News Today Loneliness and social isolation linked to early mortality Does not discuss square dancing per se but relevance is obvious
2015-03-25 Wall Street Journal New York, NY Having a Ball: Young New Yorkers Revive Old Dance Craze Contra dancing offers an inclusive atmosphere where participants can work up a sweat, do a little courting
2015-06-06 River View Observer Riverview, NJ Lord of the Square Dance Howard Richman gets Dancers Swinging Profile on Howard Richman and square dancing in New Jersey
2015-06-06 Salina Journal Salina, KS An old form of dance reaches a new generation Starts as profile of 6-year old Damien Smith who is a caller, but develops into a discussion of square dancing as a worldwide activity.
2015-10-05 Kirkland Reporter Kirkland, WA Kirkland’s square dancing club mixes hip hop, charity and pajamas for fun Article on Samena Squares and general benefits of square dancing
2016-01-01 Scan Club Newsletter San Diego, CA Dancing to Good Health Article on health benefits from a health care institution.
2016-08-15 Ventura County Star Camarillo, CA Square dancing to Maroon 5? In Thousand Oaks, that’s not square at all Article on square dance resurgence in Ventura County.
2016-09-27 Tuckahoe ?? Tuckahoe, VA Still Swinging Article on 50th anniversary of Tuckahoe Square Dance Club
2016-11-29 WJON AM1240 St Cloud, MN National Square Dance Day Encourages You to Get Up and Do-Si-Do [VIDEO] Short video essay on Tom Allen and the Beaux and Belles square dance club. Good testimonials promoting the activity.
2016-09-27 Tuckahoe ?? Tuckahoe, VA Still Swinging Article on 50th anniversary of Tuckahoe Square Dance Club
2016-12-07 Santa Maria Times Santa Maria, CA Square dancing returns to the Grange Hall (video included) After the death of her husband, Don, in July, Yvonne Martin needed an outlet. She belonged to a knitting group, but wanted something more, something that kept her connected with Don. She honed in on square dancing. This article includes pointers to a short video.
2017-02-21 Ukiah Daily Journal (Carol Brodsky) Ukiah, CA Swing your partner! Square dancing returns to Ukiah
This article focuses on caller Lawrence Johnstone but discusses a lot of background and history of dancing in the Bay area.
2017-02-24 Palo Alto Weekly (Patrick Condon) Palo Alto, CA Gay square dance group forms bonds among its members Article describing how all the clubs in the Bay area help to bind the local LGBTQ community together.
2017-03-29 New York Times (Gretchen Reynolds)

Denver Post (Monte Whaley)

New York, NY

Denver, CO

Walk, Stretch, or Dance?
Dancing May Be Best For the Brain

Dancing May Help Fend Off Aging in the Brain

These two articles, one from the New York Times and one from the Denver Post, discuss the results of a scientific study that indicates dancing seems to have beneficial effects for the aging brain. The actual study they refer to was published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience on March 16, 2017
2017-04-12 KJZZ NPR Radio (Annika Cline) Phoenix, AZ Not Your Grandpa’s Hoedown: Square-Dance Calls Get A Remix This radio piece was broadcast on NPR. It was recorded at the 44th CALLERLAB convention in Mesa, AZ in April 2017. It provides a reasonably realistic portrait of how MWSD evolved to where it is today, and finishes with comments from a new 16-year old caller explaining how she got into it and why it appeals to her. The link points to both a written transcript and an audio file of the 4-minute piece.
2017-07-01 CBS News Palm Springs (Alexandra Pierce) Palm Springs, CA Hundreds gather to square dance this weekend in Palm Springs This page shows a TV spot plus a written transcript about the 2017 IAGSDC Convention in Palm Springs.



CALLERLAB Convention Audio Recordings (as of Dec 16, 2016)

Article Type Owner Links Description
Resource CALLERLAB (callerlab@aol.org) Click here to see the index page for the audio recordings.

Each year the CALLERLAB Convention provides two full days of education and information sessions. For many years audio recordings have been made of selected sessions, and latterly some have also been recorded on video. So far, CALLERLAB has posted several hundred of these recordings to YouTube, to make them generally available. There are many more to come, so this is an ongoing process.

Click on the link in the column to the left to see an index page listing all the recordings. The list shows the year, the title (which is also a link to the recording), and a description of each posted recording.

CALLERLAB Convention Video Recordings (as of June 1, 2016)

Article Type Owner Links Description
Resource CALLERLAB (callerlab@aol.com)

Click here to go to the index page showing all the video files posted to date.

Each year the CALLERLAB Convention provides two full days of education and information sessions. For many years audio recordings have been made of selected sessions, and latterly some have also been recorded on video. So far, CALLERLAB has posted several hundred of these recordings to YouTube, to make them generally available. There are many more to come, so this is an ongoing process.

Click on the link to the left to see an index page that lists all the video recordings posted so far. Each entry shows the year of the recording, the title of the session (which is also a link to the recording), and a description of the topic. This table lists video files only.


Beginner Dance Party Leaders Seminar – Presentations from 2014

Article Type Author Last Update Description
Summary

Presentation

Barry Clasper (barry@clasper.ca) January 2016

For many years, as a lead-in to the main convention, CALLERLAB has hosted a 1-1/2 day seminar focusing on how to call square dance parties for non-dancers. CALLERLAB has posted to YouTube videos of a number of the presentations from the 2014 BDPLS. These presentations constitute a wealth of information about how to make such events a success. They cover everything from dance material to promotion to preparations to contracts, and much more.

Presenter Topic and Link
Dottie Welch Variations on the Virginia Reel
Susan Morris Effective Use of Circles
Paul Moore Working With Kids
Bob Riggs Planning
Chris Pinkham Dance Programs
Cal Campbell Genderless Dancing


Experimental Lesson Systems

Article Type Author Last Update Description

Summary

Barry Clasper 2017-03-19

This article summarizes several experimental approaches to teaching new dancers known to be in use at the time of writing. (Full text below)

All of these systems are aimed at the recruiting of new people into a system of progressive lessons from which they graduate as Modern Western Square Dancers capable of dancing some CALLERLAB square dance program (for example, Mainstream or Plus). This is in contrast to approaches aimed at entertaining non-dancers with no previous training for a single evening (for example, ABC, Community Dance, etc.) Material on those types of systems may be found here.

Some of these systems are simply revised teaching orders or innovative approaches to teaching a current program. Others are predicated on a revision of one or more current CALLERLAB program lists. Clearly, for those requiring changes to CALLERLAB programs universal adoption would require the appropriate committee approvals. Inclusion in this article does not imply such approvals are imminent or even likely.

Some of these initiatives are the result of CALLERLAB committee activity, others were created by CALLERLAB members independently of CALLERLAB, and still others were created by people with no CALLERLAB connection at all. Inclusion in this summary in no way implies that CALLERLAB officially endorses, recommends, or supports the system. This information is provided solely to acquaint you with known experimental systems.

In recent years a great deal of effort has been put into devising more effective teaching systems. These are primarily aimed at training new dancers more rapidly, and enabling multiple intakes of new dancers each year.

Following are some of the more prominent efforts:

Multi-Cycle

The term “multi-cycle” has been around for many years and has been applied to a variety of lesson systems. In general, the term implies that the teaching system in use permits new dancer intakes more than once a year. The term first evolved when adding a second intake in January was considered real progress. More recently, such systems aim to allow much more frequent intakes.

Click on the following link to see further knowledgebase articles on initiatives that could be considered “multi-cycle”: Multi-Cycle Articles

Condensed Teaching Order

This system was devised by a CALLERLAB Ad Hoc Committee to include a condensed teach system of calls. The documentation includes the suggested calls to teach along with abbreviated definitions, teaching tips and other useful information. The strategy is to teach the most frequently used subset of Basic and MS calls first so that students can more quickly be integrated into an existing group already dancing MS.

Sustainable Square Dance

Sustainable Square Dancing is the rubric Jerry Story has applied to a comprehensive effort he is leading to change the current most prevalent approach to recruiting, teaching, and retaining new dancers. It is based on Jerry’s experience in Iowa showing that teaching fewer calls more thoroughly, retaining new dancers in the entry level for a longer period, and exposing them to a broader range of call applications provides greater success.

Jerry’s design contains a number of parts, including a modified entry list that he calls Club Level 50 and a document that contains a detailed lesson plan containing sample choreography that illustrates both standard and extended applications. CALLERLAB has created an Ad Hoc charged with the task of creating this document. Once written and passed by the Sustainable Square Dance Ad Hoc Committee, it will be presented to the Board of Governors and the Mainstream Committee to seek approval for publishing as a CALLERLAB document. Regardless of how well accepted the overall Sustainable Square Dance initiative turns out to be, the SSD lesson plan document promises to be a valuable contribution to the activity.

At this point, the overall system, including the modified entry list, has not been discussed or approved by either the Board of Governors or the Mainstream Committee. That discussion is expected to take place in conjunction with the approval and publishing of the lesson plan document. Even after such approvals, SSD will still have the status of an Experimental Lesson System. Becoming a full CALLERLAB program such as Mainstream or Plus requires a vote of the full CALLERLAB membership, which, by design, is a lengthy process.

The NEST

The primary reason THE NEST system was developed was so prospective square dance students would no longer have to wait to take lessons. In other words, it was designed to encourage and facilitate the perpetual integration of new students into the classroom. Our goal has always been to create a learning environment so students could enroll anytime – thereby allowing us to recruit anytime – thus, enabling us to promote anytime. Never again having to tell folks they have to “wait ‘til September” or ????.

General Dance Program

This program was created by the Santa Clara Valley Square Dance Association (SCVSDA) as a means to integrate new dancers more quickly into their Plus community.

What is the General Dance Program?

GDP is three things:

  1. An easy and fun way to get more people square dancing
  2. A list of calls, about half the calls in the full program of Basic, Mainstream, and Plus
  3. A series of dances sponsored by SCVSDA using the GDP call list
Why should I come to GDP dances?

Because you want more square dancers. Learning the full Plus program takes a long time (particularly because most Plus clubs do at least some APD/DBD), and it’s clear from the declining size of the square dance community that this discourages many people from square dancing. It takes less than half the time to learn GDP, which gives us a chance to grow the community again.

Because you’ll have fun. The intent of GDP is “half the calls, ninety percent of the fun”. If you’re a Plus dancer who sometimes feels that Plus hoedowns are a bit too hard, you definitely want to come to a GDP dance.

What is missing from GDP?

For the most part, the missing calls are similar in function to other calls (e.g., Dive Thru), rarely used (e.g., Do Paso), or more complicated (e.g., Linear Cycle). GDP dances also use simpler choreography, avoiding APD/DBD and concentrating on “standard applications”.



Community Dance / Party Night Resources

Article Type Author Last Update Description
Summary Barry Clasper (barry@clasper.ca) 2015-08-21

This summary page points to material useful for doing single party nights or other dances aimed at people with no prior dance training. These dances are intended to be stand-alone events held strictly for the enjoyment of the dancers on that night. They are not designed to be recruiting vehicles for MWSD clubs, although there may well be cases where such an event might pique someone’s interest in a MWSD club.

The article below lists a number of systems or repositories of material to help design single-night dances.

    CALLERLAB Dances Resource Website
    This Dance Resource is a compilation of Beginner Party Dances, Community Dances, Contra Dances, and Traditional Square Dances. Dances are grouped by type and listed in HTML code for easy viewing. Each dance is also available to be downloaded as either a Rich Text File or a .pdf file. There are also supporting documents including a Glossary of Calls and Formation Diagrams.
    ABC
    Enjoy a fun, easy beginner square dance with no experience and no commitment needed. There are three different dances. The A, B, and C dances can be experienced in any order. (This is the main difference between ABC Square Dancing and traditional “lesson-based” approaches. You can do the three beginner dances in any order.) After dancing all three dances (in any order), dancers have learned 24 square dance calls. The next step is the experienced “ABC” dance using those 24 calls. New dancers and their friends can start ABC Square Dancing at any time by dancing the individual A, B and C dances in any order.
    Lloyd Shaw Foundation
    The Lloyd Shaw Foundation is dedicated to the preservation, restoration and teaching of the folk dances of America. This site contains much reference material and music for traditional dance forms.
    Community Dance Journals
    Pointer Needed
    Country Dance and Song Society (CDSS)
    This website contains a great deal of material and references regarding Square Dancing and other related dance forms.
    Dancing For Busy People
    This book contains over 400 dances that can be taught quickly to non-dancers.



Finding Music

Article Type Author Last Update Description
Summary Barry Clasper 2015-11-12

This article aggregates a number of sources for obtaining music suitable for square dancing. It includes both music specially produced for square dancing and also sources of alternative music.

Modern Western Square Dancing primarily uses recorded music. There are a number of square dance music producers that produce music specially designed for square dance use. This is often referred to just as “square dance music”. There is also lots of music available that is suitable for square dance use despite not being produced with that in mind. This is termed “alternative music”.

Music From Square Dance Music Producers
  • MusicForCallers An aggregate webpage containing links to the websites of many square dance music producers
  • dosado.com Square dance music distribution service offering music from many producers
  • A & S Records Distributors of a number of square dance music labels
  • Perry’s Place Kentucky-based music and apparel store
Sources Of Alternative Music