SSD FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Article Type Author Publication Date Links Description
Document SSD Committee 2020-09-16 Social Square Dance (SSD) Frequently Asked Questions

Those who are considering use of the Social Square Dance (SSD) system usually have many questions about how it works, the best way to implement it, and the issues they may have to address along the way. The Social Square Dance Committee has published the SSD FAQ document to address these questions. The document Table of Contents is reproduced below so you can see the topics that are addressed. Once you access the PDF document itself, the entries in the Table of Contents are links that take you directly to that part of the document.

We Urgently Need Beginners 4
Why do we need new dancers? 4
Why can’t we do what we’ve always done in the past? 4
What is the Dance Program Escalator? 4
What is the difference between Learn Mode and Dance Mode? 5
What kind of square dancing would be easier to sell? 5
What kind of shorter program can be easily learned by new dancers and also enjoyed by experienced dancers? 6
How can we maximize “Friends Bring Friends” recruitment? 6
History of SSD 7
Who started SSD? 7
What is the difference between SSD and the CALLERLAB Basic program? 7
What’s the difference between SSD and Target 2000? 7
What’s the difference between SSD and Mainstream? 8
Why was SSD created? 8
What do the letters S.S.D. mean? 9
If SSD is from CALLERLAB, why can’t I find it on the CALLERLAB website? 9
Who uses SSD? 9
The SSD List of Calls 10
If square dancing is a grass-roots activity, why do we need a list of calls? 10
Why can’t SSD use an existing list? Why do we need a new list? 10
Where can I get a copy of the SSD list? 10
Why should I follow the SSD list exactly, instead of my own variation of it? 10
What if my favorite call is not on the SSD list? 10
What if I think the SSD list should be bigger or smaller? 11
Starting Your SSD Program 12
How do I get started? 12
Where do I find beginner dancers? 12
How often should I start an SSD class? 12
How many weeks should my SSD class last? 13
What is the structure of an individual SSD session? 13
Where can I get a copy of the SSD guide book? 13
Who will promote SSD to dancers? 13
Who will promote SSD to callers? 14
How do I get my club to offer the SSD program for new dancers? 14
What if I just don’t like SSD and I prefer to teach the same programs I’ve taught for years? 15
Should I teach the calls from all formations and arrangements? 15
SSD Dancing 16
What do SSD dancers do after 12 weeks of class? 16
How can I keep dancers entertained long-term, using only 50 calls? 16
May I teach my favorite call, even if not on the SSD list, to my own group of dancers? 17
If I teach my favorite call to my group, can other SSD dancers still visit and dance with us? 17
How do I get my club to allow dancers to remain at SSD with no pressure to move up? 17
Can my SSD group visit other clubs which dance Mainstream or Plus? 18
Where can SSD dancers find other SSD dance groups? 18
Should national square dance conventions have a separate hall for SSD? 19
How does the CALLERLAB recommendation “that calls be taught from more than a single position (formation and arrangement)” fit in with SSD? 19
I heard that SSD focuses on symmetry. What is symmetry? 20
How to Keep Your SSD Program Strong 22
Where can I find ideas and success stories? 22
Where do I find dance material which uses only SSD calls? 22
Which is more important: What I call, or How I call it? 22
What happens if my club insists on continuing to teach SSD dancers all the way through Mainstream or Plus? 23
SSD was originally called “Sustainable Square Dancing”. What does sustainable mean? 23
How do I encourage people to bring their friends to the next SSD beginner class? 24
What do I do when a nearby caller tries to recruit my SSD dancers? 24
My question is not answered in this FAQ. Where can I ask additional questions? 25

Caller Tutorial and Discussion Sessions

Article Type Owner Links Description
Resource

Orange County Callers Assoc

Session Videos

During the COVID-19 pandemic a number of Zoom caller groups emerged. These sessions typically provide tutorials and/or discussion on topics of interest to callers. The Orange County Callers Association website is hosting a collection of recordings of such sessions. A wide variety of topics and speakers are covered.

See also the KnowledgeBase article on the CLASS seminars here


Save Square Dancing With SSD

Article Type Submitter Date Story Abstract
Winning Ways Story Jerry Story and Deborah Carroll-Jones 2020-08-14

SSD (Social Square Dancing) is one of those “new” things that has been around for a long time but is now starting to be noticed and implemented widely. SSD evolved to address the recruitment and retention issues that have developed over the past decades. But its approach and design makes even more sense in this “age of the pandemic”. This story by two of SSD’s most prominent practitioners goes over the rationale and usage of the system and how it has been shown to address square dancing’s most prominent problem.

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


SSD Documentation and Support Materials


Article Type Author Last Update Description
Summary Barry Clasper 2020-09-07 15:17:27

In 2016 CALLERLAB authorized the formation of the Sustainable Square Dance Committee and charged it with developing materials to support callers interested in exploring the use of the experimental lesson system called Sustainable Square Dance (SSD). Earlier versions of this system had been in use in some areas for quite some time under the name Club 50.

In July, 2020 CALLERLAB announced this system and the supporting Committee were renamed Social Square Dance (SSD). Only the name changed. All existing supporting materials still apply. At the same time, the CALLERLAB Board of Governors formally endorsed the use of SSD as a recommended vehicle for a rapid restart of square dancing after the COVID pandemic subsides.

SSD is designed to provide a 50 call entry program that can be taught quickly, roughly 20-25 hours of instruction, and yet serve as a realistic destination program for long-term square dancers. While the idea of a shortened entry list is certainly not unique to SSD, its design differs in providing a mechanism for keeping dancers happy in the entry program for at least 2 years, and in many cases, forever.

This article collects in one place documentation and materials that support the use of the SSD system. Some were created by the CALLERLAB SSD Committee while others were created by people using the system in the field. These are presented in two separate groups below. Click on the buttons below to view the respective tables.

Item Title (link) Description
Social Square Dance (SSD) Teaching Guide This comprehensive document provides a lesson plan, teaching tips, and sample choreography to jump-start callers on implementing the SSD lesson system.
Press Release announcing Board Of Governors endorsement Board Of Governors endorsement for using SSD as an approach for rapid restart of square dancing after COVID-19.
COVID-19 Information Page This page collects CALLERLAB information related to COVID-19.

The table below has two sections. The first contains materials of direct assistance to callers/dancers working with SSD – lists, videos, call definitions, etc. The second contains stories and experiences contributed by users of SSD.

Item Title (link) Description
Supporting Documentation and Materials  
SSD Teaching Videos North Shore Squares in Evanston, ILL created a series of teaching videos that demonstrate the calls in the SSD 50-call lesson plan.
Flash cards for SSD calls. Each card has the name of the call on one side and a dancer-friendly description of the call on the other. These sets of cards can be distributed to dancers as a teaching aid.
SSD Call Booklets North Shore Squares of Evanston, IL created definition booklets as an SSD teaching aid. The booklets contain a concise and easily read definition for each call, many including color diagrams to illustrate the action.
SSD Alphabetical Call List A single page that alphabetically lists the calls used in the SSD lesson system. The sheet highlights the calls from the Mainstream list that are used in SSD and also lists separately the Mainstream calls that are NOT used..
Stories and Experiences
North Shore Squares – 0 to 50 in 18 months An inspiring personal narrative that charts a 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.
Stories from Facebook Some stories posted in Facebook about experiences using SSD.
Teaching an SSD Class This Winning Ways story from a newer caller explains how she is using the SSD program to teach new dancers.
Save Square Dancing With SSD Jerry Story and Deborah Carroll-Jones outline the philosophy and approach of SSD and how it can be used to solve square dancing’s biggest problem: recruitment and retention.

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.

Read More …


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.


Corona Learning Assistance Seminar Series (CLASS)

Article Type Owner Links Description
Resource

Ted Lizotte (ted@tedlizotte.com)

Class Videos

During the COVID-19 pandemic all callers suddenly found themselves with lots of time on their hands. Jeremy Butler and Ted Lizotte decided to use some of that time productively and provide a series of online lectures to further caller education. A wide variety of topics and speakers were covered.

See also the KnowledgeBase article on the collection of tutorial videos hosted by the Orange County Callers Association here.


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.

Ed Foote – All Things Considered

Article Type Author Last Update Description
Summary Barry Clasper (barry@clasper.ca) 2020-06-15

Ed Foote is a well-known caller who has been calling since 1965. He was a founding father of Challenge dancing and served as Chairman of the CALLERLAB Advanced & Challenge Committee for 30 years. He created the National Advanced and Challenge Convention, which for decades was a highlight on the calendar of most Advanced and Challenge dancers. Yet half of his calling every year has always been for Mainstream and Plus clubs. He is a CALLERLAB Accredited Caller Coach and has conducted hundreds of caller clinics and schools around the world. In 2008 he received the Milestone Award, one of CALLERLAB’S highest honors, for significant contribution to the square dance activity.

He writes prolifically and has had articles published in square dance magazines in all parts of the world. He has been writing a monthly column for American Square Dance magazine called All Things Considered for over 30 years. Below are pointers to a number of these articles as well as some education material from his caller schools.

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Articles for CallersArticles For Callers and DancersArticles About Advanced DancingThoughts and Opinions On Various Topics

Click on a sub-section heading below to see the articles it contains



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.


Calling for Gay Square Dance Groups

Article Type Author Publication Date Links Description
Document

Nick Martelacci (nm11201@aol.com)

1995

PDF File

There are some differences in culture and customs between straight and gay square dance groups. Callers who have never called for a gay group before often have questions about what those differences are, and what they should expect. This paper was actually written in 1995, but it still provides many valuable insights into what to expect from gay square dance groups. However, over the past 20 years there has been a lot of social evolution and much more intermixing of the gay and straight square dance communities. Callers working with gay groups today will find the differences less marked than they used to be. And there are many more callers who call for gay groups so it is easier find someone to advise you. If you know nobody in your area try contacting the Gay Callers Association (http://gaycallers.org)


Flash Cards for MS Calls Not in SSD

Article Type Author Publication Date Links Description
Document

Bruce Holmes (Bruce@BruceTHolmes.com)

2019-01-25

MS Flash Cards for Calls Not In SSD

Bruce Holmes, who is the caller for North Shore Squares in Evanston, ILL, has created sets of flash cards for calls on the MS list that are not included in the SSD list. There is a separate set that contains calls from the SSD list. The link points to a PDF file that prints 6 calls on each 8-1/2×11 page. The print is double sided so that when you print the pages the call name is on one side and a dancer-friendly description of the call is on the back. These sets of cards can be distributed to dancers as a teaching aid.


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


Flash Cards for SSD Calls

Article Type Author Publication Date Links Description
Document

Bruce Holmes (Bruce@BruceTHolmes.com)

2019-01-13

SSD Call Flash Cards

Bruce Holmes, who is the caller for North Shore Squares in Evanston, ILL, has created a set of flash cards for the calls on the Sustainable Square Dance (SSD or Club50) list. Each 8-1/2 x 11 page contains six calls. By printing the PDF double-sided and cutting the page into 6 equal pieces, you can have a set of flash cards to help in remembering the definitions for the calls. Each card has the name of the call on one side and a dancer-friendly description of the call on the other. This set of cards can be distributed to dancers as a teaching aid.


SSD, MS, & Plus Call Booklets from North Shore Squares

 

Article Type Author Publication Date Links Description
Document

Bruce Holmes and Jill Sullivan (www.northshoresquares.com)

2018-01-01

SSD Call Booklet (PDF)

Continuing MS and Plus Call Booklet

North Shore Squares is a new club that dances in Evanston, ILL. Despite only being active for 18 months or so they already boast 55 members. They elected to use the Sustainable Square Dance (SSD) lesson system (previously known as Club 50) to facilitate rapid intakes of new dancers combined with retention after graduation from lessons. As a teaching aid they prepared booklets containing a concise and easily read definition for each call, many including color diagrams to illustrate the action. The first booklet contains calls on the SSD list. The second contains the MS calls not on the SSD list and the Plus calls.

Social Square Dance (SSD / Sustainable SD / Club50) Teaching Videos

Article Type Owner Links Description
Resource

North Shore Squares (northshoresquares@gmail.com)

SSD Teaching Videos

North Shore Squares dances in Evanston, ILL and has been using the Sustainable Square Dance (also known as SSD and Club 50) teaching list as their intake level. To help their dancers they have created a series of teaching videos that demonstrate the calls in the SSD 50-call lesson plan. Follow the link to see the list of call videos, both in alphabetical order and by lesson.

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”. 

Teaching an SSD Class

Article Type Submitter Date Story Abstract
Winning Ways Story Joni Micals (c3bdancer@gmail.com) 2018-11-29

Joni Micals is a newer caller who decided to use the Sustainable Square Dance (SSD) framework to teach a new group of seniors. Click on the button below to see her report of how it worked out. The second button shows a report by a dancer from Australia who happened to be visiting one of the lesson nights. It shows a third-party perspective on what was going on.

My First Attempt at Teaching a Class, by Joni Micals

I attended two GCA sponsored caller schools, my first with Betsy Gotta in St. Louis, 2015, and my second with Randy Dougherty in Palm Springs, 2017. The first time my goal was to just do one-night stands at RV parks across the USA as I was living in my RV and each park had empty recreational halls just waiting for someone to do something in them. The second time my goal was to take eight non-square dancers and teach them to square dance while I learned how to use my equipment, acquire stage presence, figure out how to actually use my words to teach the calls, and most importantly, make it fun while trying to get everyone home.

Be careful what you wish for.

I had moved into a 55+ gated community with a very large auditorium and many club rooms. I immediately petitioned to start a new club—square dancing. It took over six months of attending the recreational board meetings, writing requests, and explaining myself during open forum before two board members decided they would join a class if offered. They finally convinced the board to give me the auditorium, starting January 2018. I had six months now to recruit.

This community has a bi-monthly newsletter and a Facebook group of which I took total advantage. I posted blurbs about how square dancing was good as physical and mental exercise, wards off dementia, get to know your fellow community members, have fun, and learn something new. I posted pictures and videos of dancers smiling, memes of square dance sayings and images, and each time I left my name, number, and email, encouraging those that wanted inclusion to contact me. Without knowing the actual day and time (the Rec Board would let me know late in December!), my list of new dancers grew to 48.

Then our local area club, which did not have a class that year, started telling people that I was starting a class in January, and handed them my contact info. Dancers from that club, wanting to be angels, also contacted me. My numbers grew again.

I started to feel panicky. A group of eight to play with was now approaching five squares. I reached out to callers and dancers who all told me I would be fine, I could do this, I was a teacher for 38 years before retirement and this would be a piece of cake.

End of December and I was given a room (auditorium), a day (Tuesdays), and a time (10-12). I called back everyone to give them this info personally. Three squares could do it at that time and day. The rest had other obligations but wanted on my list for the next class if offered any day but Tuesday, in the afternoon, in the early evening, etc.

Class #1
Three squares of dancers age range 70-94. Everyone was given a name badge (Hobby Lobby, 12 plastic pin-on buttons for $4.99). Everyone initialing by their name on a sign-in page. Following the SSD (Sustainable Square Dance) 12 Week Program they learned 20 calls (parsing out the Circle Left and Circle Right as two different calls). In the first tip we learned most of the calls in a big circle. Here they could dosado, allemande left, right arm turn, promenade, and do a really grand Right and Left Grand until they got back to their partner again. In the second tip we reviewed all that we learned and then did a scatter promenade. Two became a circle of four, four became a circle of eight, and bingo! Three squares. Now they learned their new labels, Heads and Sides, and numbers, evens and odds. As they now saw the calls in the context of these squares, with each additional call (2 and 4 Ladies Chain) I realized I could get them back to their partners, and if they got out of order, I told them to grab their original partners and go home.

Class #2 and #3
Since the first three weeks were open to anyone else wanting to join, the first lesson was repeated. Some people came down with the flu, some dropped out because they had obligations (but please put me on your next list) and new people joined, so my number of squares hovered around two. At one point someone had to leave early for a doctor’s appointment, leaving one square with a hole. I put down the mic, took up the boy’s position, and called from the square. I called this “Trial by Fire.”

I should mention here that I have everyone’s email and phone numbers. For the first three classes I called everyone each week to encourage them to come, warning others that if they missed three lessons in a row they would have to discontinue their lessons and reenroll the next class offered.

Class #4
On to Lesson 2 in the SSD Program. The class learned four new calls, but were having problems with the patter that I was using from the SSD manual. Nobody was getting home. There were a few calls incorporated that they hadn’t learned yet. The sequences were too long for some dancers. I was getting frustrated. When class was over I complained on the Facebook site “Newbie Callers” only to find out I had an original copy, not the latest up-to-date version (look for the XX on the bottom of the page). I copied off the latest version (looks like they fixed Lesson 2), and I was a happy camper again.

Class #5
No new lessons. All we did was dance all of the calls we had learned. They were reacting quicker to the calls, dancing smoother, and really looked like square dancers. They were smiling, laughing, and told me how much fun this is. Only one sour puss in the group—an angel. Having been president for many years of the local club, he commented on how slow this class was moving through the calls. I said that I did not have a club over me demanding I reach Plus in 36 weeks, that I could take two years, if I wanted to, to just get them through Mainstream. Even though the SSD Program is a 12 Lesson program, it does not necessarily have to be done in 12 weeks. I wanted to make sure my class could dance, that everyone could execute the calls properly, that nobody felt stressed, and that everyone was having fun. That was my purpose.

The weekend before Class #6 I emailed everyone a copy of all the calls learned and encouraged them to print them out, highlight the ones they could do automatically, and mark the ones they wanted me to review more. Since I was being dropped off very early for the next class, I offered extra help to anyone showing up early.

Class #6
Six class members showed up early. We reviewed Star Thru and Slide Thru. Those women acting as men put their name badges on their left side, and by touching that badge they knew which way to turn on a Slide Thru. I answered questions, such as hand holds, and practiced swinging your partner. They also got a preview of one of the new calls, California Twirl.

A new lesson, four calls. Two squares (and another square’s worth absent with colds, coughs, doctor appointments) dancing everything. Bend the Line was a challenge for some. California Twirl, not so much. But when we learned Dive Thru, I introduced it as a swimming pool. Do you dive into or out of a pool? Who are my outside people? You are going to dive into the pool. You are going to dive under the arch that the people in the pool are now going to make with their inside hands raised. When those on the inside go to the outside of the pool, use that raised hand to do a California Twirl. Oh my! They actually had to remember to do something more on the outside that was different from the inside people! They felt very accomplished.

All too soon I decided to do a singing call that I planned to do at my next caller school (teaching us how to do one-night stands with Rick Hampton). I realized that the song had two calls not yet learned so they were taught Right and Left Thru and Grand Square. Then we attempted the singer several times. It was decided that no matter how slow I played the music, they hesitated too much to execute the moves in the amount of time allotted. I should mention that up to this point in the lessons I have not sung a song, just did patter. I am not a singer, having been told all of my life that I cannot sing (my parents switched me from piano to violin so that I would not sing with the tune!). In any case, I turned off the music and sang the song with the calls and slowed down for them to catch up, left song words out so they could catch up without being confused, and lo and behold! They got through the singer! Even better, I got through the singer feeling pretty good about my singing voice.

This is all I have for now. By the time this goes to publication I will have the rest of February through April under my belt. Who knows, we might have even finished the SSD 12 Week Program!

Doona Young, Australian guest

I attended one 2 hour session of Friendly Valley Twirlers in late Nov., 2018. The caller and teacher was Joni Micals.
The class was a mixture of two experienced angels, two elderly retreads, one lady taking classes both here and elsewhere (totally new a few months ago), one lady who had tried square dancing in the past, but not graduated, and two ladies who were totally new to square dancing this year. On the sign in sheet there were eight more dancers who couldn’t attend this lesson for all the usual reasons.

The class starts again from scratch (Circle Left) every 3-4 months, to allow beginners to join and others to review.
They are all elderly dancers – some with memory or movement problems. Some were quite tired after the two hours. All enjoyed square dancing for its exercise/movement benefits and fun. One mentioned the mental benefits.
The class started with only seven dancers, so Joni called while dancing for half a tip, when the eighth dancer arrived. Dancers tended to stayed paired with the same partner and same position in the square for the class duration. Dancers and caller benefitted from this consistency of home, partner, corner and opposite.

Joni turned the music down and her voice up when she was calling AND dancing. Otherwise, she used a microphone clearly. She had previously tested music and microphone levels before the class started.
There were two men and two ladies who immediately volunteered to be left side dancers. The ladies wore wrist bands for identification. The other four ladies were right side dancers.

We spent about 45 mins reviewing previously learnt calls, which were displayed on a whiteboard prominently. The calls were colour coded:

  • Black for calls already taught and reviewed.
  • Green for calls taught last week.
  • Red for the five calls to be taught in this lesson.

I was impressed with the review tips where many moves were taught and practised from both normal and half sashay positions. These moves included Flutterwheel, all 8 circulates and Grand Square. Joni moved the dancers quickly and easily to new positions.

At no stage were circulates taught as “Follow someone else.” The first circulate for the session was from ends facing out – “Ends Circulate”. – ie a facing circulate!

The most interesting was Grand Square. With a simple command “All join hands, circle left a quarter” “Sides face, grand square” can now be repeated with new sides. “Everybody half sashay” – and a warning to “be careful, this will feel different” – and we were all doing grand square half sashayed.
And this is week 8 of a beginner class.

After the review tips, we spent about 45 minutes teaching the new moves.
All of the tips in this 90 min period were used with hoedown music.
Joni constantly praised the dancers as they achieved new calls, remembered old calls, danced from new positions. She fixed muddles quietly. She asked the square to move close to her and microphone lead, so she could help people.

The last 30 minutes were used practicing and dancing two singing calls.
For one record, Joni knew how and when to leave out or shorten some calls, so we could complete the choreo in the required 64 beats. Joni knew how to add extra words for clarity, if needed. “full turn, all the way around” or “swing your NEW corner”.

The class also had a visitor – a gentleman from a neighbouring retirement village – interested in the suitability of square dance for himself and friends. Joni invited him to try – he declined – but watched with interest – and videoed our dance, and teaching, for his friends. I hope he joins the class when the next class commences in February. Maybe, if invited, he will join the class for the Christmas party in two weeks.

Effect of my presence –

  • “Are the calls the same in Australia?” = discussion about international hobby and use of English.
  • “Where are you staying?” = discussion about friends and travel.
  • “I’m coming to Melbourne next October”= email addresses exchanged; chance for this lady to dance in Australia; square dance hospitality demonstrated.
  • Another experienced dancer in square = group achieved so much.
  • I was the one who chatted to the visitor and prospective new dancer (as well as Joni, of course).

Continuing fitness and health are always continuing problems for elderly groups. Health, family and travel means many absences. Continual intake and frequent new classes mean that new dancers are welcomed and included quickly. Old dancers, who miss too many classes, can re-join in a few months.
This class has no time constraint for completion – no need to meet anyone’s expectation. They meet for fun and exercise. Well done, Joni.


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.


Social Square Dance Teaching Guide (formerly Sustainable Square Dance) New Edition


Article Type Author Publication Date Links Description
Document

CALLERLAB Sustainable Square Dance Committee (info@callerlab.org)

2020-07-21

SSD Teaching Guide V34

In 2016 CALLERLAB authorized the formation of the Sustainable Square Dance Committee and charged it with the task of developing materials to support callers interested in exploring the use of the experimental lesson system that has come to be known as Sustainable Square Dance. (Note: In July 2020 CALLERLAB announced this system and the supporting Committee were renamed Social Square Dance – SSD. Only the name has changed. All existing supporting materials still apply.) Earlier versions of this system have been in use in some areas for quite some time under the name Club 50.

This system is designed to create a 50 call entry program that can be taught quickly, roughly 12 weeks, and yet serve as a realistic destination program for long-term square dancers. While the idea of a shortened entry list is certainly not unique to this system, its design differs in providing a mechanism for keeping dancers in the entry program for at least 2 years, and in many cases, forever.

The publication of the SSD Teaching Guide represents the first deliverable to assist callers in using this system. It provides a lesson plan and sample choreography to help callers entertain dancers with a limited number of calls for a long period of time.

The link takes you to the most current edition of the guide – Version 34.


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.


Social (Sustainable) Square Dance (SSD) Alphabetical Call List

2020-02-02 SSD-50_Alphabetical_Call_List (updated 2019-11-05)

Article Type Author Publication Date Links Description
Document

Kurt Gollhardt (kurt@certek.com)

2018-03-23

SSD 50 Alphabetical Call List (Updated 5 Nov 19)

Thanks to Kurt Gollhardt for producing this single page that alphabetically lists the calls used in the Social Square Dance experimental lesson system. The sheet highlights the calls from the Mainstream list that are used in SSD 50 and also lists separately the Basic and Mainstream calls that are NOT used. For full information and sample choreography for the Social Square Dance experimental lesson system you can view the SSD Teaching Guide


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.


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 …


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 …


Using Square Dancing For Rehab (2004)

Article Type Submitter Date Story Abstract
Winning Ways Story Barbara Blencoe 2005

Report from Barbara Blencoe about how her square dance group and activity helped her rehabilitation from a stroke.

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 …


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 …


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 …


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 …


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 …


Experimental Lesson Systems

Article Type Author Last Update Description

Summary

Barry Clasper 2018-03-22

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

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

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

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

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

Following are some of the more prominent efforts:

Multi-Cycle

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

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

Condensed Teaching Order/Method

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

Social Square Dance (SSD – formerly Sustainable Square Dance)

Social Square Dancing is the new name of the Sustainable Square Dance system championed by Jerry Story. It is based on Jerry’s experience in Iowa showing that teaching fewer calls more thoroughly, retaining new dancers in the entry level for a longer period, and exposing them to a broader range of call applications provides greater success.

Jerry’s design contains a number of parts, including a modified entry list that he calls Club Level 50 and a document that contains a detailed lesson plan containing sample choreography that illustrates both standard and extended applications. CALLERLAB created a Sustainable Square Dance Committee (now renamed the Social Square Dance Committee) charged with the task of creating this document. The committee completed its draft of the document in September of 2017 and it now has approval from the Board of Governors for formal publishing as a CALLERLAB document. Regardless of how well accepted the overall Social Square Dance initiative turns out to be, the SSD lesson plan document promises to be a valuable contribution to the activity.

At this point, even with the publishing of the lesson plan document, SSD still has the status of an Experimental Lesson System. Becoming a full CALLERLAB program such as Mainstream or Plus requires a vote of the full CALLERLAB membership, which, by design, is a lengthy process.

The NEST

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

General Dance Program

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

What is the General Dance Program?

GDP is three things:

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

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

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

What is missing from GDP?

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