Want To Develop Your Dancing Skill? Start A Club!

Article Type Submitter Date Story Abstract
Winning Ways Story Glenn Rogerson (rogerson498@gmail.com) 2020-08-09

A few years ago Glenn Rogerson and his wife became hooked on square dancing. They recognized immediately that a major component of their enjoyment came from mastering a skill and making rapid progress. To provide the environment they needed to make that happen they started a club. The link below points to a document that describes how they went about doing that: what they had to consider, what they had to figure out, and how they eventually made out.

Read More …


Welcoming Dance Environment Documentation

Article Type Author Publication Date Links Description
Document

CALLERLAB

2020-07-01

Goals and Handbooks

Guidelines For Dealing With Inappropriate Behavior

Square Dancing is an overwhelmingly social activity. Therefore, it is essential that square dance groups create a social environment that feels welcoming, engaging, and safe. Events in recent years have caused shifts in social norms that raise questions about what “welcoming, engaging, and safe” actually means. CALLERLAB has acted to provide guidance in this area. The result is two documents, one providing an overview of objectives and a handbook of procedures, and a second containing a template process that clubs could adapt for handling instances of inappropriate behavior. Click on the button below to see an abstract of the document contents.

In the spring of 2018, the CALLERLAB Board of Governors updated the CALLERLAB Code of Ethics to include the following item:
5. Provide a safe and welcoming environment for all. I am committed to providing an environment free from sexual and other forms of harassment or bullying without bias based on race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, or disability, and always be respectful of the hearts and spirits of others.

Expanding on this commitment, it is our goal for all participants to have a pleasant social experience while attending square dance events. In support of this goal, CALLERLAB will provide its members and the greater square dance community with guidelines, information, and educational opportunities to assist them in preventing, recognizing, addressing,and eliminating inappropriate behavior. In addition to the documents listed below, look for additional educational opportunities such as large group presentations, small group discussions at the CALLERLAB Conventions, and Articles in Direction.

Please refer to the Welcoming Dance Environment CALLERLAB Handbook for Organization Leaders and Callers for information about the following topics.

  • Definitions of Harassment and Other Inappropriate Behavior
  • Enhancing Caller Awareness
  • Teaching Dancers about Appropriate Behavior

Please refer to the Welcoming Dance Environment CALLERLAB Handbook for Dancers for information about the following topics.

  • Appropriate Dancer Behavior
  • Defensive Dancing
  • Helping Create a Safe, Secure, and Welcoming Environment

Please refer to the Welcoming Dance Environment Organization Guidelines for Dealing with Inappropriate Behavior for a draft Club or Organization Policy with specific information about the following topics.

  • When and How to Make a Report
  • Guidelines for Taking a Report and Addressing a Complaint
  • Inappropriate Behavior Complaint Form


Cuesta Squares: A Social Success

Article Type Submitter Date Story Abstract
Winning Ways Story Luis Magana 2020-05-31

This is the story of Cuesta Squares which is an LGBTQ club that dances in San Luis Obispo, CA. It is different in that it is told by a new member and relates his experiences learning to dance with the club. It is an excellent example of the importance of the social environment of the group to the success of the club.

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Ideas for Creating Social Connections

Article Type Submitter Date Links Description
Idea Cory Geishauser (corbengeis@gmail.com)

2020-05-14

Icebreaker Questions

Cory Geishauser provides some ideas for stimulating socialization by getting people to ask questions about each other.
 
“I’ve seen places have a blast with these kind of questions. For instance, make a big bulletin board with these displayed. I’ve seen folks make trivia out of it and play with their entire group such as.. “Guess who in this club fishes every morning in their barefeet?” Some have made scrapbooks and made copies for everyone in their clubs. Even Club and Dancer Facebook pages and groups highlight a different member each day, or once a week etc.
Go crazy with it… Corby Geis”


United Square Dancers of America (USDA)

Article Type Owner Links Description
Resource

USDA

USDA Website

The UNITED SQUARE DANCERS OF AMERICA, INC. (USDA) was formed on June 26, 1981, during the National Square Dance Convention held in Seattle, Washington, and has grown to the size that approaches the representation of 310,000 dancers throughout the United States. USDA is an organization formed by dancers, for dancers, and is under the operational control of dancers. The purpose of the organization is to:

  • Promote and perpetuate the total Square Dance Movement which includes Square, Round, Contra, Clogging, Line and Heritage Dancing.
  • Establish a line of communication from the individual dancer to a recognized unified body so that an expression of varied opinions can establish or influence policy for making decisions at the national level.
  • Provide for education to further the growth and enjoyment of Square Dancing through educational publications, distribution of a quarterly magazine “USDA NEWS”, and annual participation in seminars at the National Square Dance Convention.
  • Encourage cooperation between member clubs, state associations, councils, federations; national and international organizations; or other groups involved or interested in the promotion of Square Dancing.
  • Provide a forum for implementing the benefits of membership in the UNITED SQUARE DANCERS OF AMERICA and assist members in any way possible. Our programs include offering Affiliates 501© (3) non-profit status, USA Travelers Program, and accidental medical and liability insurance.
  • Represent Square Dancing to the general public as a wholesome, enjoyable family type recreation. USDA awards Founders Youth Memorial Scholarships , a Centennial Award for dancers reaching the age 100, as well as support for the Handicapable Dancers.


USDA COVID-19 Letter

Article Type Author Publication Date Links Description
Document

USDA (Tony & Diana Rock, Presidents president@usda.org)

2020-04-01

USDA Statement re COVID-19

The United Square Dancers of America published this open letter with guidance on handling dances during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.


Virtual Square Dances and Recordings


Article Type Author Last Update Description
Summary Barry Clasper (barry@clasper.ca) 2020-09-07 15:19:17

There have always been pockets of people who find themselves unable to assemble a whole square, or sometimes even another couple, but who want to dance anyway. The COVID-19 pandemic turned the whole square dance population into such people. As the pandemic wears on more and more of this sort of dancing is becoming available. To the point that guides and calendars are emerging to help sort through the offerings. The first three entries in the list below are such items. The first is the IAGSDC calendar of Virtual Dances (it’s the first item in the table below). The second is the Trailblazers A&C Virtual Square Dance Guide, which focuses on Advanced and Challenge dances. The third is a guide published by the Austin Square and Round Dance Association that includes all levels.

In addition to the pointers to the online calendar and guides, this article provides a collection of recordings specifically aimed at people dancing by themselves. Some are in the form of a “virtual dance” where you can see other couples dancing along with you in their living rooms. Others are more in form of a demo couple showing you the moves.

Click on the item heading to go to the recording. Some are video, others both audio and video.

IAGSDC Virtual Dance Calendar
As the pandemic wears on virtual dances have become increasingly numerous. The IAGSDC addressed this issue by putting up an online calendar of virtual dances. Virtual dance sponsors can enter their event on the calendar by filling out a form on the calendar page. It is not restricted to members of the IAGSDC. Some of the events are recorded and may be found after the dance date on YouTube or Facebook, or in one of the collections following below. Others are live Zoom sessions that allow you to interact with other dancers between tips.
wheresthedance.com
In response to the changed situation due to the pandemic, the wheresthedance website has updated their facility to include virtual dances. After following the link above, click on “Show all virtual: Square Dance” to see all dances registered with the site. This site has a separate KnowledgeBase article with additional details which you can view here.
Trailblazers A&C Virtual Square Dance Guide
The Trailblazers square dance club in LA has published a guide for virtual dances at Advanced and Challenge. It is available online and will be updated as new information is received. If you have information you would like added to the guide contact vsdeditor20@gmail.com. The link provided takes you to a page that appears to show two documents. Only the first one takes you to the PDF. The second has a title of the form “Updated {date}.pdf”, and is just a dummy to tell you when the last update to the first one was done.
ASRDA Virtual Square Dance List
The Austin Square And Round Dance Association is publishing a frequently updated list of Virtual Square Dances at all levels. The link takes you to a calendar, but the actual dance information for each week can be viewed by clicking on the document link in the Sunday of each week.
Intro to Virtual Dancing
The SquareDanceCalgary organization has put together this page explaining the basics of virtual dancing using Zoom. It includes pointers to several instructional videos that explain how the dancing works, and how to use the Zoom program to access dances.
Ett McAtee Virtual Advanced and Challenge dances and workshops.
Ett McAtee wished to keep her C1 class up and running after they had to shut down due to the pandemic. Her program has grown to a regular C1 workshop on Monday evenings and Wednesday afternoons, an A2 dance with C1 star tips on Friday evenings, a Sunday Challenge series, and a C3A workshop/review co-called with Linda Kendall on Tuesday evenings. Email Ett for more information and to get “on the list”. Her email address is available if you follow the link above.
Buddy Weaver One-Couple Dancing
Buddy Weaver has recorded several tips specifically choreographed for a single couple. The tips progress in difficulty with Part I being the easiest. All tips have an audio recording, and some have a video recording as well.
Mike Dusoe Virtual Dances
Mike Dusoe has hosted a number of virtual square dances over Zoom. He often has guest callers as well. The video screen shows a number of windows, each containing a couple (or a single) dancing the material in their own home. This page is an index to those dances.
Dancing In The Garage Series
Specifically designed for two person Square Dancing, the “Dancing in the Garage Series” is created by Bob and Dorothy Simpson and Darby Love from Vancouver Island. These are presented as dance along fun-shops and tutorials. There are currently over 200 videos available.
Mike Seastrom Connects With His Class via Zoom
During the pandemic Mike wanted to keep in touch with his dancers, so he called some dancing they could do in their own living rooms.
Darren Gallina Zoom Dances
Darren Gallina has posted several “Zoom” dances to his YouTube channel during the pandemic. Called by Darren and a variety of other callers.
Calgary Virtual Square Dance Videos
The Calgary & District Square & Round Dancers Association has held a number of Zoom dances aimed at single couples during the pandemic. They have posted the recordings on YouTube.
Challenge 2-Couple Zoom Virtual Square Dance Videos
During the COVID-19 pandemic a number of Challenge virtual dances were held over Zoom. Levels include C2 through C4. Keith Rubow recorded these dances and they are available for purchase on his site. Information on the scheduling of the live dances is available on the IAGSDC calendar.

Promotional Video from California

Article Type Author Publication Date Links Description
Document

JW Davis, Temecula Grape Stompers Square Dance Club

2020-01-23

Square Dance Promotional Video

This promotional video was produced in 2019. It shows an attractive collage of slides depicting dancers having fun over a soundtrack of Dan Nordbye doing a singing call.


Facebook Stories About Using Social (formerly Sustainable) Square Dance (SSD)

Article Type Submitter Date Story Abstract
Winning Ways Story Barry Johnson (callerbear@gmail.com),

Joni Micals (c3bdancer@gmail.com)

2020-01-12 Updated 2020-12-23

Dean Dederman posted a question in the Sustainable Square Dance group in Facebook. The answers provided by Barry Johnson and Joni Micals constitute an excellent Winning Ways story on using the SSD experimental lesson program. Later in a different thread, a question was posed as to how much of the success of a reported SSD implementation was due to the involvement of an outstanding caller (Kip Garvey). Barry Johnson replies to that with his experience calling for two different groups, one using SSD and one not.

Click on the button below titled “SSD Story” to see the transcript of the Facebook threads.

Dean Dederman Original Question:
I have a question. I ask this with no agenda or dog in the fight, and just ask for honest answers and opinions with no one getting upset or offended. Callerlab’s teaching list of basic and mainstream has been the gold standard in teaching modern western square dancing for many years. But as numbers have gone down, different lesson teaching ideas have been tried and discarded. Among the ones that have come to prominence and have enjoyed some success are the ACA’s teaching list and the Club50/SSD. My question is a long one, but can anyone explain why SSD was not presented to Callerlab for approval before presenting it as an option to replace the standard teaching list….or if it was, what were the reasons it was rejected?! Where it has been presented in piecemeal fashion where some clubs…federations….state organizations are for and against it, do both the traditional methods and the SSD methods a disservice. I ask this so I can give an answer to questions posed to me by various club and association officials, as well as for my own personal knowledge. I appreciate any opinions, and again ask that they be given in a constructive manner. Thank you.
Barry Johnson Comment #1
That’s a very fair question, Dean.
As you said, as numbers have gone down, different lesson teaching ideas have been tried and discarded. Along the way, Callerlab has supported experimentation: People trying to do something different, looking for success. Some of those experiments succeeded; many showed little improvement over the norm. Yet the problems persisted.

In certain parts of the country (in the Rio Grande Valley specifically) the “season” is a short one. There simply aren’t enough weeks in the dance season to teach new dancers the full Mainstream program and give them remaining weeks in which to dance before they leave the valley. The callers in that area developed the “Club 50” program with a goal of teaching for 12 weeks, then dancing a common program across the valley.

Why not simply use Basic? Well, there are some popular Mainstream calls that aren’t very hard to teach, and there are some not-so-popular Basic calls (and others that are harder to teach). So why not, if they’re working as a group, leave a few Basic calls off the list and add in a few of the popular/easy MS calls? So they did.

The RGV callers weren’t the only ones to look at sharing the entry level programs. Callers in the San Fernando Valley area (if I remember right) established a common teaching order that was somewhat different. Representatives of Callerlab and ACA negotiated a common list of 50 calls with a recommended teaching order (and Callerlab calls that the “Condensed Teaching Order”). Again, the goal was to look at something like 12 weeks of teaching time, not 16 or 20 or 30.

Later, much later, the benefits of a shorter teach cycle began to be realized in various parts across the country. A 12-week teach can comfortably be finished in the September-December timeframe without getting into holiday stress. A second class can be done in January-April, and even a third class in the summer.

Not only that, we’re finding that a larger percentage of dancers graduate from a 50-call program than the full mainstream program (and we could spend an hour discussing *why* that happens). AND, perhaps more importantly, being able to start a new class relatively shortly after the previous class gives the newly graduated (and excited!) dancers a chance to bring in their friends and start through the classes again. Together with yet other reasons, it looks like this type of 50 call program actually does make a meaningful positive improvement in recruiting and retention of dancers.

So, given that success, what should happen next? How does one try to share and build on that success? The Callerlab Board of Governors has authorized a non-permanent committee to explore continued development of this program. The RGV Club 50 list was chosen as a starting point. Teaching orders were developed, suggested choreography and lesson plans were created, and pathways to provide continuing education to dancers (the “with variety” and “extended applications” areas).

If this program shows success in growing areas of the country, then it may be reasonable for Callerlab members to adopt this as their entry level program. And we are indeed seeing successful implementations across the country, with everyday clubs and callers (the success is not limited to exceptional callers or regions of the country with specific demographics, for example).

Why not just use the Basic list? That’s certainly a possibility: The approach (50 calls, 12 weeks, standard positions only, get ’em dancing — THEN improve) is the important thing, not the specific list of calls. But what the heck — why not leave Do Paso and Allemande Thars to a little later, and bring in Scoot Back and Recycle a little bit sooner? Some tinkering with the contents of the Basic list could very well be reasonable.

What are the downsides? In the eyes of some (perhaps many) existing dancers, this feels like a step backwards for them. “I’m a Plus dancer, and I made it from 0 to Plus in one year, so of course we should continue doing that! I don’t want to dance some measly little 50-call list.” Those dancers, of course, turn out to be exceptional people: They were one of the 10% that survive the lengthy indoctrination into the activity. Many of them have been dancing for decades, so it seems very easy to them.

But if you look at the numbers — if you look at the way people learn — if you look at the benefits of dancing a smaller program, you find that callers can put on high-energy, fun dances with a small dance program and reinvigorate an area. By letting dancers get into the activity several times each year (at least twice, if not three times!), by capturing their excitement at its peak, we’re seeing rejuvenation in areas that have been stagnant for a long time.

Barry Johnson Comment #2
Shoot, hit “enter” too quickly. Anyway, very few dancers are willing to step up and say “Let’s make our activity simpler”. That’s been a giant hurdle.

And this is where callers — “Square Dancing’s Professional Leadership” come into play. If CALLERS see the benefits, if CALLERS lead the way, if CALLERS make this happen — even at the risk of pissing off certain dancers — then we can see the success.

Not all callers are in favor of this, of course. Not all see a difference between, say, a 16-week class and a 12-week class. Except that he 16-week classes are generally only once per year, and the 12-week class can easily be twice a year…. and right there, just off the top, you can double the number of dancers entering.

“Our angels don’t want to dance that much”. Well, the answer is to get more angels, isn’t it? So let’s get more new dancers, and turn them into angels faster, and that problem goes away quickly.

We can talk for a long, long time about all of the benefits that come out of this. But it’s hard to talk many-decade dancers into believing that a new approach can make a difference, and some very actively oppose it.

All I can say is that it works. It works in multiple areas, it works for many reasons (some of which are quite subtle), and the results are worth the arguments. As callers, we’re leaders… and it’s time we get up and lead.

Sorry for the strong words — but you can tell I’m pretty passionate about this subject. And that’s because of my personal experiences with it, and seeing how other callers in our area are having exactly the same type of success.

I’m running three beginner classes this year, and we’ll graduate something like 20 to 30 new dancers. That’s compared to years prior to this where we were getting 4-6 new dancers per year. So we’re looking at four and five times as many new dancers coming into the club. WOW!

And those dancers are, on the average, a bit younger than we’ve been getting in the past… and those somewhat younger folks are bringing in their friends. The 12-week commitment is easier for those younger folks to make, which is one of the reasons why the average incoming age is dropping… which is another one of the benefits .

But back to some of your original questions: “Why wasn’t it presented to Callerlab”? It was presented to the Board of Governers, and they authorized the continued development of this still-experimental program. And as the program develops, the various Callerlab committees and membership will consider whether it looks like something to adopt as a permanent program, or whether some of the existing lists could/should be changed, or whether the experiment should be abandoned.

It takes time to steer a very large ship, and course should be changed only for good reasons and after serious consideration. I really believe that is what’s happening now — as an organization, Callerlab is learning whether or not it’s a good idea. I happen to think it IS a good idea, but we’ll need to present convincing evidence to the rest of the membership to make a change.

Long answer to a very good question!

Barry Johnson Comment #3
Oh, other questions that often come up from the dancers:
* “People won’t come to our dances if we do this.”
* “We won’t be able to take our new dancers anywhere else.”
* “We can’t take them to association dances, special weekends or conventions”

The long-term answer to all of this, if it works out this way, is to grow the support for the program across wider areas. But in the shorter term, this has been our experience:

“People won’t come”:
Attendance at our 50-call dances has actually INCREASED, not decreased as our club members feared. There are several reasons for this: The new 50-call dancers from -other- clubs are attending our dances (woo hoo!); some dancers that felt like they couldn’t keep up with our higher-level programs have continued to dance instead of dropping out; our own membership is growing faster because of the change; and the experienced dancers in the area have realized that they can still have a fun night dancing without needing Spin the Top or Shoot the Star.

By focusing on standard arrangements first, we can get the new dancers dancing at “club speed” sooner and with more success, so as callers we’re able to put on a higher-energy event… which raises the attractiveness of our dances.

“We can’t take them to other clubs”
That problem can be surprisingly short-lived, particularly when a leading club has success with the program. If one club starts growing much faster than others, then others may choose to copy that model… and it starts to grow. Inviting other callers to come in to the first club gives them experience in how to call at that level, and that eases the transition into other places. And honestly, the newest dancers are often the ones least interested in going to other clubs at first, giving more time for “continuing education” that improves their skills before heading out.

“Can’t take them to large events”.
Yep. That’s part of the overall picture of change. In our area, we’ve been able to convince our association leadership to offer SSD tips, if not a full-time hall, and it’s been popular (in some cases, more squares on the floor in that hall than in the ‘big’ hall). For our state convention this year, the hall that would normally be Mainstream is going to be SSD full time… the convention chairman and the programming chairman both strongly support the concept. For Nationals? Yeah… most of the newest dancers are not willing to travel to Nationals in their first year anyway, and by the time they ARE invested enough in the activity, they’ve probably had time for the continuing education to bring them up to the Mainstream level.

Of course, there are always roadblocks to making change, and these are good examples of the hurdles that need to be worked through. But they ARE solvable, and generally shouldn’t be considered to be complete show-stoppers.

Now, if there are clubs that don’t care about increasing the number of incoming dancers by 2 or 3 or 4 times… well, then, the right answer may be to let that club continue exactly as they are. They’ll either flourish (good for them!), stay the same, wither away and die, or decide to change. That’s entirely their prerogative, and that’s OK. No-one HAS to change.

Barry Johnson Comment #4
Sigh. I just can’t stop talking about this subject…

One other very important point about the approach.
IT IS NOT AN IMMEDIATE SILVER BULLET!

A giant contributor to the success of this program is small positive changes that compound year after year. There is no magic wand to wave that makes a huge difference from day one.

Instead, the success builds over time as the principles are applied season after season, year after year. It’s the old “friends bring friends” approach… if you get 5 people through the first class, then make it easy for them to bring new friends to a second class, then THOSE friends bring more friends for the third class… it grows over time.

But doing lessons just once per year isn’t enough. A shorter class makes it easier for an excited new dancer to sweep up a friend or few and start again “in just a few weeks”. And by increasing the percentage of folks that finish, this all compounds class over class over class until you’re seeing the good results.

And if you have someone that can’t finish for some reason? “Why don’t you come back and join us again in in six weeks when we start again?” instead of “Gee, I’m sorry you’re on vacation for 5 weeks. Will we see you again ten months from now?”

So, for all of my cheerleading about the process, it’s like advertising: you don’t get much result from just one application, but if you keep doing it over and over, it works better and better.

OK, I think I’m done now

Joni Micals Comment
My turn. I began dancing in 1975, with Callerlab calling the shots with program lists, experimental and quarterly selections, adding or deleting calls, and so on. If I didn’t dance regularly, soon I wouldn’t be able to because I would miss out on the latest call or concept, especially if it made it on my program. So here I am, 46 years later, at C3a. I started teaching the SSD program three years ago and love it. 2-3 classes a year, 50 calls. No, they cannot go to a mainstream dance (first criticism). No, most did not want to ever go beyond 50 calls (in fact, they all thought the first 40 was more than enough). My point is, if callers made it a fun journey, and not arduous, the dancers do not need to learn all of Burleson’s book of definitions, or even MS. Most are just interested in dancing. Although I teach all positional (and that’s my lack of experience in calling — they are half sashayed and I call R & L Thru), they don’t know that they shouldn’t know it at this point in the scheme of things. I do teach an older crowd (seniors — not the future of square dancers — second criticism), but what the heck, they enjoy it.
Today I was asked by several in my new 55+ community when I will start up a square dance class. I need to get a bit more organized, and I will. (BTW, no overhead, but no pay. Purely for volunteer.)
Barry Johnson reply to query about results being due to caller, not SSD

Barry Johnson replying to Mike Pogue: A large part of it is transferable, Mike. I can tell you that from personal experience.

The key differences: 12-14 weeks of lessons, not 16-30. Multiple starts per year. Focus on the *dance*, not in the puzzle, using generally just standard formations and arrangements. Support the new dancers by making the level a part of every club dance, preferably the only level offered at least some of the time.

I am a dead-average caller, certainly not a top tier guy, and it’s working for me. We’re only halfway through our second year after switching from a pure Plus club, and we’ve already increased our membership from about 45-50 (and trending down) members up to 70… and we’re starting two more SSD classes next month so hope to finish the year with 80+ members.

We’re also seeing it work with several other groups in the area (some of whom started calling after learning to dance with this program). There are now five area clubs that have adopted it (started with just one), being taught by eight different callers, none of whom are stars. The remaining clubs in the area are watching our success, and I know that at least a few more are considering changing as well.

Outside of this area, we’re seeing it work in Radar O’Reilly’s home town of Ottumwa, Iowa (led by Robin Ragen) as well as in the southeastern Iowa (Tom Manning). Tom is a good regional caller, but he’s seeing a dramatic difference in his results as well.

Some other observations (again, less than two years into the program):

  • Our dances usually had 2 to 5 squares before, and now we’re fairly consistently at 4 to 7.
  • Our class sizes are bigger: graduating 10 new dancers this week instead of the 2-4 dancers we had been doing each year for the 4 previous years. We’re also losing a smaller percentage of dancers though a lesson cycle… I think we lost just 2 or 3 dancers this fall, instead of the more typical nearly 50%.
  • The dancers in this set of lessons appear to average 5-10 years younger than previous groups. Don’t know if we’re seeing a significant difference yet, but the indication is that this program is more acceptable to folks somewhat younger than in the past.
  • Enthusiasm for classes is up: our lesson managers report increased numbers of phone calls expressing interest. We’re also definitely seeing the “friends bring friends” affect.
  • From a budgeting perspective, the club had been losing about $1000 per year on lessons, and people were seriously talking about killing the lessons because we couldn’t afford it. Now, we’re making a small profit on the lessons and again, the trend is upwards instead of down for several years.
  • This group holds 20 dances per year, and uses almost entirely guest callers. The callers have begun to embrace the program and are doing some nice, nice dances for us. The focus on flow and wind in your face for the SSD tips has been great. We’re using callers from four states, some of whom are more than two hours drive away, and they all (now) understand the program we expect. We’re hiring them, and they’re doing what we ask with virtually no complaints.
  • Excitement is higher in the club than we’ve seen in the past. This is really hard to quantify, but we had lost the feeling of fun and anticipation for dances and special events. But now, our newest dancers are bringing that back: they’re happy, they come to dances, they smile a lot… and the whole club feels uplifted.
  • Like many clubs, we were getting in a rut with the same volunteer leaders doing jobs for years. Now, we’re seeing new club members step into leadership roles, bringing fresh ideas.
  • The other local clubs (there are about 20 clubs with a 60 minute drive, and 75% of them are Plus only) have been accepting of our new format. Initially skeptical, those clubs have returned to visiting our group… and they’re doing it in somewhat larger numbers, too. Our visiting attendance at dancer is higher than it had been two, three or four years ago.
  • Best of all, I think, is that our wider net for catching has brought in some truly wonderful people that will, I think, form the future leadership of the group. I’m also about to start recruiting folks interested in calling to try to grow another caller or few.

    I’ve been teaching lessons for about 10 years now, and these SSD lessons (three groups last season, one so far this season, and two more starting next month) have been, I think, the most fun. I’m not grinding the dancers to death with 100 calls… I’m not teaching all positions… we celebrate victory about every three months… and then we do it again.

  • Continuing education has also been popular: we’re teaching advanced to the jaded Plus dancers (who suddenly realized they weren’t as good as they thought they were), running SSD and Plus workshops where we can focus on nuances, and happily encouraging our newest graduates to go through lessons a second time (this time as angels).
  • Finally, you can contrast this all with the mainstream lessons I’m teaching for a club in southern Wisconsin. They have lessons just once per year, and even skipped the lessons last year because their angels were too tired and wouldn’t commit to coming. The club membership is down to less than 20. We’re about to graduate 8 new dancers for them… but I can point at four or five of them that I don’t expect to see next year.

    They’ll add some of these folks to club membership… that’s good, but it’s unlikely that they’ll do much more than stay even with their membership.

    I really, really have to convince them to change next year. They need all the help they can get.

    Convincing our club to change was hard… I finally threatened to quit. “I’m not interested in teaching 0 to Plus any more. If you want to do that next year, you’ll have to find a different instructor.” THAT’s when they got serious talking about it. After the last 18 months of success, all of the reservations of club members are gone… they have completely bought into the program (and realized that they’re having more fun, too!)

Mike, I’m sold on this program, because I’m seeing it work for me.


2019 IAGSDC Survey Results

Article Type Author Publication Date Links Description
Document

Brad Bruner (liaison@iagsdc.org)

2019-07-17

Survey Results PDF

The International Association of Gay Square Dance Clubs (IAGSDC) is an association of square dance clubs that mainly focus on LGBTQ square dancing, although members of all backgrounds and identities are welcomed. While membership numbers vary with time, at the time this survey was done the association contained 60 member clubs. More information on the IAGSDC can be found at the IAGSDC website.

While there are come historical and cultural differences between gay and straight clubs, there are many more commonalities. Gay clubs face the same difficulties as straight clubs in the areas of recruitment and retention. In an effort to understand what their members were doing to address those problems and which efforts seem to be meeting with success, the IAGSDC commissioned a 46-question survey of their members. The PDF file contains the summary results of that survey. A total of 43 surveys were sent out and 41 responses were returned – a very high response rate for such a project. While a few of the questions deal with matters specific to gay clubs, such as participating in Pride parades, most apply equally well to any square dance group. These survey results provide a useful and very current window into the operations of square dance clubs.


North Shore Squares – Zero to 50 in 18 Months

Article Type Submitter Date Story Abstract
Winning Ways Story Bruce Holmes (Bruce@BruceTHolmes.com) 2019-01-16

Bruce Holmes is the caller for a new club in Evanston, ILL called North Shore Squares, which at the time of this writing has been in operation for about 18 months and now has 50+ members. This story is an inspiring personal narrative that charts his journey through the process of using the Social Square Dance (SSD – formerly named Sustainable Square Dance) system as a tool to dig their club out of an all-too-common hole. All the clubs in the area danced Plus or beyond and you can’t realistically take the average recruit from nothing to Plus in a dance season. Result: at most one student intake a year, sparse student numbers, and heavy attrition. Club membership was falling. Along the way, the group faced all the usual hurdles: resistance to change, demoralization, lack of resources, reluctance to do the hard work. Bruce’s narrative takes you through how they stick-handled their way through the obstacles and grew their club.

You can click on the links below to get more information on the North Shore Squares story, and also see some of the supporting materials they developed to support their marketing and teaching.

Read Bruce’s Story
Flyer #1
Flyer #2
Definition Booklets
SSD Flash Cards
MS Not in SSD Flash Cards
Plus Flash Cards
Teaching Videos


Tech Squares Call Definitions

Article Type Author Publication Date Links Description
Document

Tech Squares (squares@mit.edu)

2015-01-01

Call Definitions Index

Call Definitions By Lesson

Tech Squares is a club that operates at MIT. An interesting fact about this club is that their lesson-set is actually offered by MIT as a Physical Education credit. Part of the documentation they provide is a set of call definitions from Basic to Plus. They are abbreviated definitions that are intended to help dancers remind themselves about how the call works. The definitions are housed on a website. One link takes you to an index page that contains links to the definitions for each call. The other takes you to a page showing the lessons in which the calls are taught.


Alberta Chatter Newsletter

Article Type Owner Links Description
Resource

Claudia Littlefair (claudia.littlefair@gmail.com)

Back Issues
2020
2019
2018
2017
2016
2015
2014

The Alberta Chatter newsletter is published every six to eight weeks. It contains articles on promotion, member retention, and general interest articles, as well as a regular column by a visually impaired dancer, Dee Jackins, entitled “The Lighter Side of Darkness”. 

Buy Advertising Space In Your Local Mall

Article Type Submitter Date Links Description
Idea Blue Bonnet Squares (Club Website)

2018-08-09

Video Link

Blue Bonnet Squares in Houston bought an advertising display in a local mall to advertise their classes. See video at link provided or go to their homepage.


NNJSDA Keynote Addresses From Roy and Betsy Gotta

Article Type Event Date Presenter Links Description
Presentation Northern New Jersey Square Dance Association Convention April 2018 Betsy and Roy Gotta (separate presentations)

DREAM (Betsy’s Keynote)

They’re in the Door (Roy’s Keynote)

Talking Up Square Dancing

At the Northern New Jersey Square Dance Association annual convention in 2018, Betsy and Roy Gotta delivered individual keynote addresses. Together, these presentations provide a wealth of insights and suggestions on how to market, recruit, and retain new dancers. Click on the links to the left to see the text of the presentations.

  1. Check out Betsy’s keynote, titled “Dream”, for an exposition on how to market and communicate with non-dancers. How can we change the way non-dancers perceive our activity? What messages do we need to communicate?
  2. Roy’s keynote is titled “They’re In The Door”. If your marketing and recruiting is successful, how do you keep them coming back? How do you build a successful club?
  3. When you get an opportunity to talk about square dancing, do you know what to say? Has a friend ever expressed curiosity? Has a reporter ever approached you? Do you have an “elevator pitch” ready? “Talking Up Square Dancing” provides guidance on how to deliver appropriate, targeted, and concise messages when an opportunity presents itself.


Innovative Program For New Dancers Revives Dying Club

Article Type Submitter Date Story Abstract
Winning Ways Story Claudia Littlefair (claudia.littlefair@gmail.com) 2018-04-01

This is the second year that our Strathmore club, just east of Calgary, used ‘The Nest’ program for new dancers. What this method has meant for us in Strathmore is that our club is not only surviving, but thriving. Four years ago we were close to shutting down because our small group of dancers (one to two squares/night) were quickly aging out. We were fortunate to graduate several new dancers that year and the next, who were willing to take on executive positions. But we were still just hanging in there. When we introduced The Nest program two years ago, six dancers completed the program. Using the old method (one fall entry point and no absences), only two of the six would have completed.

Read More …


How Rounds Are Scheduled Can Be Important

Article Type Submitter Date Links Description
Idea Jerry Junck (junck@aol.com)

2018-04-23

N/A

Jerry Junck reports on an observation from a club on Vancouver Island. Their format involved having a round between tips and they noticed that new dancers had difficulty getting into squares with the experienced club members. This seemed to be because the experienced dancers were doing the rounds and simply squared up right away since they were already on the floor. The club decided to make a change and do the round immediately after the square dance tip, then take the break. Now they have found that the new dancers were able to join squares with experienced dancers much more easily. We should be thinking of ways to INCLUDE new dancers, rather than unintentionally EXCLUDING new dancers in our dance programs. Breaking down the walls of US (the experienced dancer) versus THEM (the newer dancers).


Seating Can Change The Social Atmosphere of a Dance

Article Type Submitter Date Links Description
Idea Jerry Junck (junck@aol.com)

2018-04-23

N/A

This account from Jerry Junck describes a seemingly trivial change in the way dancers are seated during breaks which he believes has improved the social atmosphere of the group and lead to an increase in the number of dancers attending his dance. Something to think about …

==========================

For years I had always set up my hall with two rows of chairs in the back, side by side. Never really gave that a thought, but did it because “that is what I’ve always done.” That section is a 20 foot wide area behind a row of four columns. Too small an area to dance, but great for seating away from the floor.

Two seasons ago, my activity director decided to leave tables set up in that area all the time. I wasn’t all that sure about it, but that is what she wanted. They set two rectangular tables set end to end. Each table will each seat 4 people on a side, and there are ten sets of these tables. That seats 160 people. Using my old method of chairs side by side, I could not seat that many dancers.

What I have found is that dancers LOVE those tables. To the extent that I believe it has contributed to the growth of this dance in these last two seasons. Also, people are arriving earlier to “stake out” their tables for their friends. This has given dancers a place to put their drinks, their bags, and plates, if we have treats, and a place to put their elbows, if nothing else. It has increased the social aspect of the evening tremendously. Much easier to visit with people across the table rather than down the line beside them on chairs.

As an aside, I just called a dance here in Nebraska this afternoon for a club I started 51 years ago. They are not a big group anymore, but they also set up tables for people to sit around, rather than on the benches around the hall. It was amazing to watch how much they enjoyed being able to visit with each other.


Restructuring El Camino Reelers Classes

Article Type Submitter Date Story Abstract
Winning Ways Story Allan Hurst (allanhurst@gmail.com) 2019-03-29

El Camino Reelers (“ECR” for short) is a club in the San Francisco area which had been experiencing a constant decline both in terms of class sizes and club membership from year to year. The club was losing money from year to year, especially on classes, but also on club nights. A number of members had died, experienced medical issues preventing them from dancing, or retired and moved out of the area. To arrest this decline the club decided on a new approach to reinvigorate their membership. The new plan involves a three track approach to recruiting and retaining dancers:

  1. Monthly “Drop-In/Fun Nights” with no experience required.
  2. A series of three partitioned blast classes, gradually taking dancers to Plus.
  3. Club nights with both blast-level and full level Plus/Advanced dancing.

This detailed 23-page document describes how they implemented this plan: how they advertised, how they recruited, how they restructured their teaching and club groups, and how they integrated new dancers into the club. It contains a wealth of insightful thinking and planning.

Read More …


CALLERLAB Square Dance Marketing Manual

Article Type Author Publication Date Links Description
Document

CALLERLAB Marketing Committee

2018-02-10

CALLERLAB Square Dance Marketing Manual

Japanese Translation

This square dance marketing plan has been developed by CALLERLAB members in support of our mission: “To foster the art of square dance calling, and improve caller skills.” Just like the square dancer population, the number of square dance callers today is dramatically smaller than 30 years ago. For CALLERLAB to increase the population of callers, we must start by growing the population of square dancers, thereby providing more opportunities for callers to call, and developing a population base from which new callers will be recruited.

Document Abstract

It is CALLERLAB’s goal to provide square dance callers, square dancers and square dance organizations the tools they need to recruit new dancers in their local markets. This includes:
 Education about marketing fundamentals, which will provide a review of the many things you need to consider about our activity when you begin marketing square dancing.
 Accurate research about the state of our current activity and an understanding of the general public’s image and awareness of our activity.
 Defined marketing strategy elements and exercises for groups to determine target demographics, benefits sought by each target demographic, analysis of our product versus products we compete with, a list of our marketing challenges, and a position statement.

Brand management tactics.
A large list of marketing tactics with “How To” instructions for each.
 Collateral marketing material to support specific tactics.
 Recommendations.
 Case studies to demonstrate successes that are repeatable.
 Fundraising ideas. Face-to-face training programs to assist local dance groups in their marketing efforts.


BC Westsyde Squares Recruits 29 New Dancers

Article Type Submitter Date Story Abstract
Winning Ways Story Alberta Chatter Newsletter (claudia.littlefair@gmail.com) 2017-12-20

This story describes how Westsyde Squares in British Columbia used marketing savvy and well targeted advertising to recruit a large new contingent of dancers. It contains a lot of great information about what messages people responded to, as well as an insightful discussion of the reasoning behind the design of the advertising which was a significant element in their success.

Read More …


Dancing For Your Health

Article Type Author Publication Date Links Description
Document

Colorado Round Dance Association Newsletter (Sandi & Dan Finch)

2017-12-08

Dancing For Your Health

This newsletter article describes some studies and articles that discuss the health benefits of dancing.


Rocky Mountain Recruiting Plan

Article Type Author Publication Date Links Description
Document

CALLERLAB Marketing Committee (callerlab@aol.com)

2017-12-14

Rocky Mountain Recruiting Plan

This detailed recruiting plan was abstracted from the CALLERLAB Marketing Report. The report includes some success story examples and the Rocky Mountain Recruiting Plan is one of them. This article details the general plan and includes a description of one successful execution.


ARTS Letter Containing Promotional Materials (Aug 2017)

Article Type Author Publication Date Links Description
Document

The ARTS (directorarts@aol.com)

2017-08-06

Class Promotional Materials

This letter from the ARTS organization contains promotional materials and plans useful to clubs planning to start a new class.


Small Town Club Has 5 Squares of Beginners

Article Type Submitter Date Story Abstract
Winning Ways Story Tom Kahnert (tom@teamtomandjo.com) 2018-08-21 Updated 2019-09-23

The Town of Strathroy has a population base of about 8,500, located about 35 km west of London, ON. Including some surrounding rural areas the natural catchment area is about 22,000. Despite this relatively small population to draw from, this club has a very successful beginner program with 40 paid-up new dancers. How exactly did they accomplish that?
(2019 Update: Using the strategy outlined in this article, the club inducted 15 new members in the fall of 2018 and 16 more in the fall of 2019)

Following are links to two documents that describe what happened. The first is an article in the Alberta Chatter newsletter. The second is the slides from a presentation Tom and Jo did at the Canadian National Convention in July 2018 where they went into a great deal more detail on how they made it work.

Newsletter Article
Presentation at Canadian National

Tom pointed out that some of the images used on the flyers and marketing materials were copyrighted and license fees were paid for their use (approx $35 each). Tom provided the following information about finding appropriate images:

Through liaising with a contact in Alberta, she reached out to another Club’s Executive Member who used these photos. Having the above numbers for each photo really helped, given that there are hundreds to look at.


Landmark Hearing Assist System

Article Type Author Publication Date Links Description
Document

Landmark Audio Technologies (info@landmarkfm.com)

Landmark Hearing Assist

For dancers who have trouble hearing the calls over the music, Landmark Audio Technologies’ FM transmitters and receivers provide high-quality, cost-effective hearing assistance. During a dance, a Landmark FM Transmitter is connected directly into the existing sound system. The caller speaks as usual into a microphone. Each dancer hears with ear buds or a headset on their Landmark Audio FM350 Receiver. Each adjusts their own volume level.


Keith Rubow’s Dance Recordings Site

Article Type Owner Links Description
Resource

Keith Rubow (keith@krubow.com)

Rubow Recordings Page

This site permits you to purchase recorded dances done by a variety of callers as well as some special festivals such as AACE, PACE Extravaganza, and Heartland. In addition there are a number of sets of teaching recordings for levels C1 through C3A. Recordings are provided as downloadable MP3s. The site focuses primarily on Advanced and Challenge, although some callers have provided some Plus tips. This site is a tape group’s best friend.


Happy Time Squares, Lawrence KS

Article Type Submitter Date Story Abstract
Winning Ways Story Mike Hogan (mike.hogan@cox.net) 2017-07-06

In four years the Happy Time Squares in Lawrence, Kansas, went from zero to 140 members!

Read More …


Duke City Singles and Doubles – a Revival Story

Article Type Submitter Date Story Abstract
Winning Ways Story Mike Hogan (mike.hogan@cox.net) 2017-07-06

In 2012 the club was very close to folding due to lack of members so new club leadership took responsibility to develop a growth strategy. The result – by 2017 they have 80 new members.

Read More …


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.

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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. )



IAGSDC History Wiki

Article Type Owner Links Description
Resource

IAGSDC (International Association of Gay Square Dance Clubs)

Website

The IAGSDC is an umbrella organization for square dance clubs around the world that serve the LGBTQ community. Their History Wiki presents a wide range of historical information about LGBTQ square dancing, including current and past clubs, notable people, their annual Convention, the Gay Callers Association (GCA) and other affiliated organizations, as well as the evolution of the IAGSDC itself.


Sets In Order Archive

Article Type Author Publication Date Links Description
Document

Bob Osgood

1948-1985

SIO Archive Page

Click on the link to view a page pointing to digitized copies of complete editions of the Sets In Order magazine.

This page is a tribute to Bob and Becky Osgood. The Sets In Order magazines are one of their legacys that comprise in these pages the history of modern square dancing. Bob began publishing SIO in 1948 and the last issue was issued in December 1985, 444 issues.

This material is Copyright (C) by Bob Osgood, and his heirs and may not be reproduced in any form including digital transmission for commercial purposes. Short articles may be reprinted using credit: “Reprinted from [magazine] and magazine year and month. magazine should be replaced by the appropriate magazine name such as SQUARE DANCING Magazine, official magazine of The Sets in Order American Square Dance Society” or just “Sets In Order” for earlier issues. Please credit by-lined authors.


Two-Couple Teaching and Dancing Recordings

Article Type Owner Links Description
Resource Tony Collingwood (pace@collingwoods.org) Webpage

In the Challenge dancing world it has often been the case that dancers wishing to learn a new level did not have a live caller near them who could teach it. The remedy for this was “tape groups” that used recorded materials to learn and dance the new level. Unfortunately, a result of our declining numbers is that it is increasingly common for a group wishing to learn a new level to be unable to muster a full square of dancers, let alone a caller. One answer to this problem is recorded material that requires only two couples. A surprising number of calls and concepts can be exercised without a full square.

Tony Collingwood is a caller in the UK who has created an impressive repertoire of 2-couple teaching and dancing material ranging from Mainstream through C3B. These recordings are available free of charge as MP3 downloads. Click on the link in the column to the left to go to a list of the available recordings.


Why We Should Care About On-Line Marketing

Article Type Author Publication Date Links Description
Document Claudia Littlefair (claudia.littlefair@gmail.com) 2016-10-12 On-Line Marketing

This an article extracted from the October 2016 edition of the Alberta Chatter newsletter edited by Claudia Littlefair. In the article Claudia examines the typical strategies various age groups use when shopping or looking for information, and how we can use that understanding to reach potential dancers.


Using Yard Signs to Promote Square Dancing

Article Type Submitter Date Story Abstract
Winning Ways Story Janice Cha (Janice.cha@sbcglobal.net) 2016-06-21

This item contains a description of how the Swinging Sugar Squares of Evergreen Park, Ill. effectively used yard signs to attract more interest in their classes. There is also a link to the Swinging Sugar Squares Toolbox page which contains all kinds of resources such as sign templates, sample flyers, advertising strategies, and more. Click on the links below to see these resources …

Using Yard Signs Article
Toolbox Page


Media Articles on Square Dancing

Article Type Author Last Update Description
Summary Barry Clasper 2020-09-09 15:40:27

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 in descending order by publication date (i.e. most recent first) 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 58 media articles.

# Publication Date Publication Name Location Article Title Comments
1980-12-31 Phil Donahue Show Chicago, IL Lee Kopman on Phil Donahue Show (video) Lee Kopman has created more calls used in contemporary square dance than any other individual, some 350 or more. In 1980, he appeared on the Phil Donahue Show and presented this program of square dancing, joined by dancers from New York, Chicago, Ohio and Wisconsin. Assisted at the mic by caller Dave Taylor, who calls for a group of young dancers, Kopman provides lucid responses to the host’s questions, and he provides clear demonstrations of the differences between traditional and modern square dancing.
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
2013-10-15 US Army ?? Square dancing as easy as A-B-C An account by US Army veteran Mike Smithers about how he found square dancing and eventually became a caller.
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
2015-11-01 Quartz (Bronwyn Tarr Post-doctoral Research Associate, Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford) (Online News Outlet) Science says dancing with friends is good for your health Article on health benefits accruing from music and dance (not square dancing in particular, but emphasising dancing in groups).
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.
2016-12-07 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)

Colorado State University Source (Jeff Dodge)

New York, NY

Denver, CO

Denver, CO

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

Dancing May Help Fend Off Aging in the Brain

Study: Dancing may offset some effects of aging in the brain

These three articles, one from the New York Times, one from the Denver Post, and one from the Colorado State University Source, 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.
2017-06-21 Vice (Sean Egan) New York, NY America’s Gay Square Dancing Underground Wants You to Join Them

This article in Vice presents a positive description of the gay square dance movement with a focus on Times Squares in New York.

2017-09-18 ABC News Australia (Samantha Turnbull) Australia Forget Tinder, baby boomers say Gen Y should take up square dancing Square dancers say young Australians should be ditching their smart phones in favour of real life connections on the dance floor. More than 200 dancers converged on the northern New South Wales city of Lismore last week for the 38th annual state Square Dance Convention. Square and Round Dance Association of NSW president David Todd said part of their goal was to attract more young dancers to the pastime.
2017-10-06 Clark County Today.com (Suzan K. Heglin) Vancouver, BC Jim Hattrick still going strong calling square dancing in Vancouver Jim Hattrick has been calling for 58 years. This piece in ClarkCountyToday.com describes his career and includes general information on square dancing and recruiting and training dancers.
2018-03-14 Northwest Boomer and Senior News (Deb Allan) Oregon Go Dancing on page 3 of the March 2018 web edition

This article, titled Go Dancing on page 3 of the March 2018 web edition, describes a successful club and dance hall in Springfield, Oregon. Of particular interest is how local clubs banded together to purchase and operate the dance hall. (You will probably need to zoom in to read the text.)

2018-03-14 The Maryville Forum (Jessika Eidson) Maryville, MO Square dancing could improve cognitive and social abilities

Square dancing is not only a lot of fun and a great form of exercise, for older (60-79) adults, it could help prevent cognitive decline. One study done by the University of Colorado found that white matter (the tissue on which messages can be send through the central nervous system) improved in integrity after 6 months of moderate, social exercise.

2018-08-09 The Denver Post (Shaban Athuman, Mark Jaffe) Denver, CO For Some Locals, It’s Hip To Be Square Dancing

This excellent article in the Denver Post does a great job of describing Modern Western Square Dancing and the current efforts of clubs in Denver to attract new members.

2018-09-01 55 PLUS (Colleen M. Farrell) Rochester, NY Square Dancing: Fun for Singles, Couples

This article in 55 PLUS magazine describes the stories of some enthusiasts who say square dancing keeps them mentally and physically active.

2019-02-27 Argus-Courier (Clark Miller) Petaluma, CA Square dancing makes local comeback in Petaluma

This article describes the efforts of Dan Lyke to re-establish square dancing in the Petaluma area. It provides a positive description of the nature of MWSD and outlines some of the challenges square dance groups face in today’s social environment.

2019-07-04 KYWTV (CBS affiliate) Philadelphia, PA Belle’s Run 2019 Square Dance Convention Takes Over Philadelphia

This 3-minute piece does a nice job of depicting square dancing in general and gay square dancing in particular at the 2019 IAGSDC convention in Philadelphia

2019-07-05 WHYY (PBS Radio, Peter Crimmins) Philadelphia, PA Swing those partners: Gay square dancers gather in Philadelphia

This 3-minute audio piece describes the 2019 IAGSDC convention in Philadelphia. It talks about both dancing and calling and provides good information.

2019-07-08 Philadelphia Inquirer (Brandon T. Harden) Philadelphia, PA ‘It’s the world’s best-kept secret’: International LGBTQ square-dancing convention held in Philly for the first time

This piece about the 2019 IAGSDC convention (Belle’s Run) in Philadelphia features interviews with Sandie Bryant and several dancers and organizers.

2019-07-11 AP (Natalie Pompilio) Philadelphia, PA Gay square dancers add new spin to centuries-old dance style

This piece about the 2019 IAGSDC convention (Belle’s Run) in Philadelphia has some nice quotes from dancers and organizers about square dancing and LGBTQ dancing in particular.

2020-01-03 UofL News (Haeli Spears) Louisville, KY UofL researchers study dancing as treatment for veterans with PTSD

Researchers at the University of Louisville and Western Connecticut State University did a pilot study focused on Dancing Well, a local non-profit organization which hosts the Soldier Project. The Soldier Project brings veterans with PTSD together for group dancing and community. The study was aimed at exploring the hypothesis that dancing provides benefits to PTSD patients.

2020-01-17 Times Record (Hannah LaClair) Topsham, ME Square dancing tradition alive in Topsham

This piece is a profile of the SAGE Swingers, a 50 year old club in Maine. It provides a synopsis of the benefits and pleasures of square dancing, as well as a discussion of some of the hurdles the activity faces.

2020-01-31 Capital Gazette (Jack Chavez) Maryland Fort Meade: Swinging squares brings modern square dancing to the community

This profile of Swinging Squares featuring caller Virgil Forbes provides a good positive treatment describing the club and the square dance activity.

2020-02-01 Albany Democrat Herald (Sandra J. Bean) Albany, NY Interfaith Voices: An antidote for despair: dancing

This evocatively written article does an excellent job of describing the mental and emotional experience of square dancing, and the benefits that flow from it.

2013-11-18 San Diego TV San Diego, CA Learn to Square Dance With Buddy Weaver (Video)

Clip for UTSan Diego TV program with caller Buddy Weaver, San Diego Square Dancerss and TV Hosts

2020-05-14 Chicago Tribune (Myrna Petlicki) Chicago, IL Glenview square dance club takes activities online

This article describes how Glenview Squares is staying active and keeping their members engaged during the COVID-19 pandemic.

2020-06-05 the Fence Post (Marty Metzger) Bellvue, Colo Such fun being virtually square (dancing)

This article describes how the Lemonaders virtual square dance group came together during the COVID-19 pandemic to keep square dancing alive in their area.

2009-12-16 Wall Street Journal New York, NY Strictly Come Square Dancing: Historian Digs Into Dance’s History

This article from the Wall Street Journal in 2009 give a brief overview of the history of square dancing.

2020-09-07 Salt Lake City Channel 13 Salt Lake City, UT TV News Item

This video from Channel 13 in Salt Lake City provides a positive report on square dancing. It was done during the pandemic and shows people dancing outdoors wearing masks and gloves, with good commentary by Suzi Page.



Rocky’s Success Story

Article Type Submitter Date Story Abstract
Winning Ways Story Doreen Guilloux (jdguil2@cciwireless.ca) March, 2016

Three years ago the Rocky Mountain House Whirlaways were struggling to hold their own. This spring they already have 2-1/2 squares signed up and paid for, for next fall, and they haven’t even advertised yet! Their recent President’s Report explains how their club worked together to turn things around.

Read More …


Recruitment

Article Type Author Publication Date Links Description
Document Tim Marriner 2016 Document PDF

Some ideas from Tim Marriner on the subject of recruiting new dancers to a club.

One of the most important necessities of our activity today is the need to find prospective new dancers. Unfortunately, many current dancers have grown weary looking for new people for various reasons. Existing dancers often have hounded their neighbors and friends several times to the point of being a nuisance. There are also dancers that would prefer not to have to “angel” anyone else again, possibly due to burn out. Some members might not really want to lower their proficiency or may wish to move ahead to other forms or programs of dance, not really interested in recruitment of new dancers. If a club determines they need to host new dancer sessions, the entire club needs to understand their responsibilities to support the effort 100%. Recruitment should not be left in just the hands of the caller or the club officers.



New Dancer Coordinator

Article Type Author Publication Date Links Description
Document Tim Marriner 2016 Document PDF

Does you club have an officer who has the job of organizing and catering to your new dancers? If not, you should think about it. This document describes what the responsibilities of a New Dancer Coordinator would be.

After the Club President the New Dancer Coordinator (NDC) is the next most important officer of a square dance club. They must coordinate between the Club President and the club instructor many necessary duties to achieve success. Without new dancers clubs are destined to fail. New dancers are the lifeblood of our activity. New dancers usually have friends nobody has ever contacted to join the square dance activity. They are often highly motivated and willing to encourage others to join something they find new and exciting. The main objective of the NDC is to provide the best fun filled learning experience possible. The NDC must also work year round to energize the club to recruit prospective new dancers, not just one month prior to a new dancer session. The task is very rewarding when everything comes together and you are able to achieve club growth.



174 Prospecting Ideas

Article Type Submitter Date Links Description
Idea Jim Langdon (mntndncr@gmail.com) March 2016 174 Prospecting Ideas

Timberline Toppers’ Recruiting Plan

Timberline Toppers is a club that has dramatically grown their membership by creating an effective plan and executing it repeatedly. One element of that plan is to use a variety of prospecting tactics. Over the years they have collected a large number of prospecting ideas and published them in the first document in the list of links. This document is part of a larger Winning Ways story which is included as the second document in the list of links.


Timberline Toppers’ Recruiting Plan

Article Type Submitter Date Story Abstract
Winning Ways Story Jim Langdon (mntndncr@gmail.com) March 2016

Timberline Toppers in Colorado created a recruiting plan that they used repetitively over a period of several years resulting in a dramatic regrowth of their failing club. In 2005 they struggled to put a square on the floor. Their first execution of this plan resulted in 38 new club members. They have fine tuned their plan over the years and now believe they can develop a class of 40 or more any time they choose to put forth the effort.

Read Timberline Toppers’ Plan …
Read Timberline Toppers 174 Prospecting Ideas …


Using Yard Signs to Advertise

Article Type Submitter Date Links Description
Idea Dale and Cindy Bennett (dale@the-nest.us)

Janice Cha (Janice.cha@sbcglobal.net)

2015 Frontier Squares Winning Way Story

Swinging Sugar Squares Winning Ways Story

Advertising square dance lessons by placing a sign on a lawn or a poster on a telephone pole is not new. But this new twist shows how with a little more active management, the tactic can be much more effective than you might think.

This idea was extracted from a couple of Winning Ways Stories. You can read more detail on this idea and see the context in which it was used by clicking on the links to the left


Operation Frontier – 2015, Milford, OH

Article Type Submitter Date Story Abstract
Winning Ways Story Dale and Cindy Bennett (dale@the-nest.us) 2015

If you think it’s inevitable that square dancing is destined to decline, ask any member of Frontier Squares from Milford, Ohio – and they’ll offer a different opinion. Working together as a team our club achieved the following:

  • Our marketing and advertising strategy resulted in 102 new visitors the first three weeks of lessons.
  • On the 15th week, 51 new dancers were still active.
  • On the 15th week, 11 squares were dancing – 47 new dancers were dancing with 41 Angels
Read More …


Using The 12 Session Twice Per Week Program in Red Deer, Alberta

Article Type Submitter Date Story Abstract
Winning Ways Story Ron & Connie Morgan, RED DEER May 2015

For the 2014-15 square dance season, the Red Deer Square Dance Club decided to try something new and untested for introducing New Dancers to square dancing. Instead of the usual 6-7 month lessons once a week, we wanted to do a 12 week, twice a week approach. Red Deer has always had lessons on a separate night than the regular dances, so our new dancers get more floor time right from the start than most other clubs who teach on their regular dance night.

Thanks to Claudia Littlefair for her permission to republish this story first published in her Alberta Chatter newsletter.

Read More …


Experience Using the Nest System in Calgary, Alberta

Article Type Submitter Date Story Abstract
Winning Ways Story Claudia Littlefair, Calgary May 2015

May 2017

The Banff Trailers Club dance every second Saturday, and have New Dancer lessons every Monday night. Each September several New Dancers would join, but due to factors such as illness, time constraints, vacations, only some were able to complete the year. The club was looking for a new way to increase their numbers, and when ‘The Nest’ idea was presented they agreed to give it a try during the 2014-15 dance year.

Thanks to Claudia Littlefair for her permission to republish these stories first published in her Alberta Chatter newsletter.

Read the original story from 2015 …

Read an update about their experience in 2017


Success Using Fast Track in Edmonton, Alberta

Article Type Submitter Date Story Abstract
Winning Ways Story Pat & Ray Duffy, EDMONTON May 2015

In 2011/2012, the Country Sunshiners promoted and started New Dancer lessons under the watchful eye of Gary Winters. However, our turnout was low and to our dismay, by Christmas most of our new dancers had disappeared. During a meeting to discuss the results it was suggested a new format might be in order as the current one had not worked and maybe a compressed time frame would be better received. At the 2012 A.G.M. the Club discussed our future and the need for new members. It was decided to initiate the FAST TRACK Program with the hope of increasing the interest in Square Dancing.

Thanks to Claudia Littlefair for her permission to republish this story first published in her Alberta Chatter newsletter.

Read more …


Signs Speak Volumes

Article Type Submitter Date Links Description
Idea

Document

Claudia Littlefair November, 2015 Albert Chatter Newsletter Nov 2015, pages 1-2

This article abstracted from the November 2015 edition of the Alberta Chatter newsletter describes how a club uses innovative signage as an aid to recruiting new dancers. See the article titled “Signs Speak Volumes”.


Advertising Brochure Stressing Health Benefits

Article Type Submitter Date Links Description
Idea Jean Lander (hjlander@gmail.com) April 2015

2015-04-20 Ottonobee Brochure re Health Benefits (pdf file)

2015-04-20 Ottonobee Brochure re Health Benefits (docx file)

It is a different approach. I am stressing the health benefits of square dancing. The idea is we will get these rack cards professionally printed. We will buy the plastic rack holders and then our members will approach doctors offices, medical centres, activity centres, health food stores, or anywhere they can find that is suitable for our display there. Hopefully one person/couple will take responsibility of one or two holders, finding a location and keeping it stocked.

I have had positive feedback from Lift Lock, Otonabee, Lindsay and Cobourg. Cobourg is waiting for a meeting to get approval. The clubs will pay for as many cards are they want.

There will be no specific locations, times, etc., on the card, as you can see.

I have had 3 quotes for printing 5000. The best price is $600 which includes tax. Holders are approx. 1.50per piece. The cards are about 3.5″ x 8″. The shelf life of the cards is long term as no dates, times etc., are given.


Otonabee Squares – Success Starting a New Club (2009)

Article Type Submitter Date Story Abstract
Winning Ways Story Jean Lander (hjlander@gmail.com) 2015-08-03

Report from Jean and Howard Lander about their success in starting up a new club in Peterborough, Ontario. The report contains much interesting information about how they advertised, promoted, and recruited for the new group.

Read More …


ceder.net

Article Type Owner Links Description
Resource Vic & Debbie Ceder (debbie@ceder.net) Website

Ceder.net is a comprehensive collection of resources related to square dancing. It includes a number of sections:

  • A database of callers and cuers
  • A database of square dance clubs
  • An extensive database of choreography examples
  • A database containing upcoming events
  • (for the above 4 databases individuals can input and update their own entries to keep them current)

  • A large repository of documents and articles related to square dancing
  • A huge database of square dance music (for historical reference, not for purchase)
  • Links and lists of other square dance resources


Rutgers Promenaders Rebuild

Article Type Submitter Date Story Abstract
Winning Ways Story Ken Robinson 2015-03-02

Report from Ken Robinson describing how Rutgers Promenaders rebuilt their club after a period of decline.

Read More …


Village Swingers Club New Recruiting

Article Type Submitter Date Story Abstract
Winning Ways Story Eva Murray 2015-07-28

Report from Eva Murray about how over a period of years the Village Swingers is rebuilding their club through effective advertising and improved teaching programs.

Read More …


New Dancer Promotion

Article Type Submitter Date Story Abstract
Winning Ways Story Bill & Marge Webb 2015-02-01

Report from Bill and Marge Webb, Brecksville Squares. They report information of actions the club took to increase the number of new dancers in the club. Very helpful information for any club looking to add new dancers.

Read More …


Success Strategy – Brecksville Squares (Ohio)

Article Type Submitter Date Story Abstract
Winning Ways Story Dennis H. Deluga 2004-01-30

A report from Dennis H. Deluga about what can be done to help a club become successful. It deals with a number of areas including leadership, communication, and outreach, that clubs must address in order to be successful.

Read More …


Success Strategy – Broken Wheel Squares (Kirtland, OH)

Article Type Submitter Date Story Abstract
Winning Ways Story Mike and Rose Speers at RVROSE @Earthlink.net or 28845 Serenity Lane, Wickliffe, OH 44092. 2003-10-30

The 35th Anniversary Year of the Broken Wheel Squares came at just the right time. The club was in the doldrums. It had inexperienced leadership, an aging membership and was losing its spark. To many we were just going through the motions. We had good dances, but any excitement was coming from the caller not the membership. We were losing money on about a third of our dances and were surviving by the thinnest of margins.

Read More …


Recruiting Old & New Dancers (Belles and Beaus-Pomeroy, OH)

Article Type Submitter Date Story Abstract
Winning Ways Story Betty Knight (club president) 2003-07-06

The Belles and Beaus of Pomeroy, Ohio had a new dancer group of 7 couples and 3 singles in 2002. Their success in recruiting was attributed to two activities. Several weeks prior to the start of their new dancer session a written invitation was sent to former dancers inviting them to a “Come Back to Square Dancing Party”. They obtained the membership lists from three area clubs that had folded plus past membership lists of their own. They also placed ads in 3 local newspapers. The papers listed their club activities and new dancer group in their social calendar. The papers also carried a news story a couple of weeks prior to the start of their new dancer session.

Read More …


Larkspur Tam Twirlers – Invite Public

Article Type Submitter Date Story Abstract
Winning Ways Story Eric Henerlau 2003-07-19

The Larkspur Tam Twirlers, which dances during the week, periodically sponsors a Saturday night special when other clubs, are invited. These dances are typically plus level. Occasionally, the dance may be a red light/green light dance where half the tips are new dancer level.

Realizing a marketing opportunity in having the non-dancing public see a large Saturday dance, the club recently advertised their dance to the general public. Non-dancers were invited to attend at no charge. A special introductory session was held 30 minutes prior to the dance, during which the caller taught some basics with the club dancers filling the floor. After the half-hour was completed the public was invited to stay and watch the square dancing. Between tips, mixers and easy lines were played with everyone invited to join in. Twenty non-dancers attended and thoroughly enjoyed themselves with several joining a new dancer session that started 3 weeks later.

The Lakespur Tam Twirlers use a multi-cycle new dancer format. The destination level is Plus.

Read More …


New Dancers – (Crosstrailers – Warren, OH)

Article Type Submitter Date Story Abstract
Winning Ways Story Margie McCummins 2004-03-30

We have enjoyed thirty-seven new dancers (students) for lessons this year ….. thirty-seven! Our lesson nights have ten to eleven squares, and yes, they are a bit noisy with all the laughter and fellowship.

When we polled our new dancers to see what brought them to our lessons and squares, thirty-seven came because of a personal invite; one couple found our club on the Internet. Sixteen new dancers said they had previously seen a demo; four had seen a flyer at a fair; and four read our article in the local newspaper. However, this did not bring them to our lessons …. it was the personal invitation that brought them to lessons.

Read More …


Growth Thru Classes – Greenville, PA

Article Type Submitter Date Story Abstract
Winning Ways Story Shirley Newbrough Club Correspondent 2004-12-01

An encouraging story about a club rejuvenating itself.

Read More …


Club For Classes – Only

Article Type Submitter Date Story Abstract
Winning Ways Story Boomerangs – Washington, DC Area
Becky & Hoyt Stewart, 4414 South 34th Street, Arlington, VA 22206, Phone; 703-578-0132 E-mail: beckv.hovt@verizon.net
2004-03-20

The Boomerangs is a club that is not a club. We are not a dancing club; rather we are a teaching council with multitiered classes. We exist for one purpose, to hold square dance classes.Our concept has been a combination of already tried ideas and new ideas. We are always evolving and trying to adjust to changing times.

We started with a small group of dancers and one caller who met almost on a weekly basis during the formative months. The members began with a vision and contributed their time, energy and funds to begin the council. Then we recruited additional callers and dedicated angels to help make this teaching concept a reality. We exist through the support of our local callers, angels and a very dedicated council who are the managers and administrator of our group.

Read More …


New Class Promotion, South Milwaukee, WI

Article Type Submitter Date Story Abstract
Winning Ways Story 49’ersSquare Dance Club
South Milwaukee, WI
Bernie Coulthurst, editor of the Club Leadership Journal
2003-01-01

Hard work and perseverance has paid off for the 49’ersSquare Dance Club of South Milwaukee, Wisconsin. There are 24 new dancers in their 2002-03 class. Their promotional efforts started in 1999 after not having any new dancers in 1997 or 1998.

Read More …


Winning Ways (2003/2009/2018) Sage Swingers

Article Type Submitter Date Story Abstract
Winning Ways Story Brunswick, ME
FoundationFL@aol.com for more information.
2003/2009/2018

In the various square dance magazines and web sites you can read how square dance clubs and national organizations have plans for advertising square dancing, for “improving” our public image, for altering the dance program and for growing memberships. For the SAGE Swingers in the process began with a change in philosophy. What are the club’s goals for its dancers? The Club thinks this can determine how you go about gaining and keeping new members. Their first report is from 2003, followed by updates in 2009 and 2018 describing how the club is faring.

The Clubs goals today are different from what they might have been five and ten years ago. For example, at SAGE Swingers some of our goals are:

  1. To help the club grow by getting more new members
  2. To make sure people are having a good time learning to dance.
  3. Insure that new members return.


Here are some of the “old” goals the club no longer strives for.

  1. The Club does not feel people need to graduate from a Mainstream program by a certain date.
  2. Classes do not have to start in September only.
  3. Learning to dance is not a race to see how quickly you can get to Plus or A-1
  4. The Club tends to downplay classic square dance clothes and make sure people know it’s optional
Read 2003 Report …
Read 2009 Update …
Read 2018 Update …


Valley Trailers

Article Type Submitter Date Story Abstract
Winning Ways Story GNorthridge, CA
John Nash,
info@valleytrailers.org
2002-05-15

During the early 1990’s, the Valley Trailers Square Dance Club of Northridge, California had lost much of its membership from earlier years. The club had also fallen on bad times financially. The then board of directors decided that something new should be tried in order to secure the club’s future.

It was decided to try the Multi-Cycle new dancer program to see if this would bring in more revenue and class members. The President approached caller Vern Weese, who was familiar with the program, to teach the class and in September of 1994, the Multi-Cycle program was started using a 12 + 12 system through the plus program.

For the first couple of years, very little improvement was seen in membership, although starting classes four times each year did increase the overall number of new dancers. In December of 1995, Vern left the area and Mike Seastrom took over as the class instructor. At about that same time, the Multi-Cycle program started becoming profitable. However, the level of the dancers graduating at plus after only 24 weeks was not acceptable.

Read More …


Leadership Seminar

Article Type Submitter Date Story Abstract
Winning Ways Story Akron, OH, Tom Rudebock, Larry Cole 2003-06-08

In March 2003 the Akron Area Square and Round Dance Federation sponsored a Saturday afternoon Leadership Seminar for all member clubs and clubs from the neighboring Federations. All area callers and cuers were extended an invitation. There were 96 in attendance.

Read More …


Recruiting Success – Square Benders (2002)

Article Type Submitter Date Story Abstract
Winning Ways Story Square Benders – Milwaukee, WI, Ruth Witt, Eric Tangmann 2003-04-24

The Square Benders are currently one of the larger clubs in the Milwaukee, WI area with 22 couples and 13 singles. Their 2002-2003 new dancer group has 5 couples and 5 singles. This group of new dancers came from several sources. The club runs an ad in the local paper, beginning in June, with a number to contact for more information. The names are recorded of all those responding for later follow up. One couple invited members from their Bible Study Group and another invited people from their camping club. They lost some this past year due to health reasons, work schedule conflict and snow birds. Each year approximately 35 invitation letters are mailed.

Read More …


Dancing In A Social Club

Article Type Submitter Date Story Abstract
Winning Ways Story Kittyhawk Squares
Marvin Stibich
2003-03-23

The Kittyhawk Squares are a social club that square dances and not a square dance club that socializes. We have an excellent home dance location: The Lathrem Senior Center of the Kettering Recreational Center. They help recruit and publicize our events in their bi-monthly news letter.

Read More …