National Square Dancing Day exists to celebrate the square dance form of folk dancing, and is a great excuse to get out and “Dosey Do”. This fun, healthy and simple form of dance with a long history definitely deserves a holiday all of its own, and it has one!
Learn about Square Dance Day
To understand the importance of Square Dance Day, you first need to learn about the square dance itself! This is a type of dance that involves eight people in total who are split up into four different couples. Each couple is arranged into a square, with one couple at each side, facing the middle of the square.
This dance has progressed a lot throughout history and it is popular in many different parts of the world. These dances were first documented back in the 16th century in England. However, they were also popular in other parts of Europe and they have become a part of American history as well.
When you consider the impact that this dance has had, it is of no surprise that we have a Square Dance Day to celebrate it! On this day, we celebrate this traditional dance and we raise awareness about it as well. This is the perfect chance for you to get your dancing shoes on and try out this dance with some friends and loved ones. Whether you go to a dance class or you simply practice from the comfort of your own home, it does not matter so long as you are moving!
History of National Square Dancing Day
Square Dancing has its roots in traditional English, Irish and Scottish folk dance. Square dances were first documented in 17th-century England. They came to North America right along with the European settlers, where they were modified and improved over the years. The Western American square dance is perhaps the most famous type of square dance worldwide; in fact, the square dance is the official dance of 19 American states.
Square dancing is mainly associated with a romanticized image of the Old West, and cowboys wooing Southern belles during dances organized at saloons to celebrate various occasions. The dance is accompanied by jolly, lively music on guitars, fiddles, accordions and bagpipes.
The dances normally form patterns of lines, circles and, as the name suggests, squares, with couples – male/female, female/female or male/male – taking a turn in every role. In most American forms of square dance, the dancers are prompted through the square dance choreography to the beat of the music.
Sometimes, this so-called “caller” is one of the dancers, but more commonly the “caller” is found on the stage with the band. Interest in square dancing, which had waned during the World Wars, experienced a revival in New York City in the 1950s, during the American folk music revival.
How to celebrate National Square Dancing Day
In short: learn it! Go to a dance school with some friends or try on your own at home. If you and your family or friends do decide to try at home, it may not work out very well at first, but that doesn’t mean the time will be badly spent—the laughs and food and drink you could prepare to go along with the evening can easily more than make up for your mistakes and stumbles.
There are many reasons why this dance is so popular—thanks to the caller telling you what steps to do next, it is easy to learn, lively, and a great chance to meet lots of new people to have fun with! The atmosphere is usually relaxed and relatively amateur, meaning that even those who have always felt they have two left feet can join in and enjoy themselves. Exercise, music and fun – get them all by going along to a celebratory Square Dance Day party!
An alternate way to celebrate could be to watch Winona Ryder’s 1987 film, “Square Dance” about a young country girl who suddenly finds herself thrown into the realities of the big city. At first, she is happy to run away from the small town she comes from, but eventually begins to miss the simple life.
The movie earned a Golden Globe nomination for the outstanding performance of Rob Lowe, who played an intellectually disabled friend of the main character, and is definitely worth a watch on this day. Another reason the film is noteworthy is that one of the “members of the Bayou band” in the film, the then near-anonymous Trace Adkins, later went on to become a country star with numerous countrywide hits.
You could also spend some time on Square Dance Day learning about the different types of square dances that are popular around the world. For example, in England, there are a number of different examples of square dancing. Ceilidhs will often incorporate square dances. Plus, square dances are also popular in a lot of English country or folk dances too. You can then learn about the different dances in continental Europe, Ireland, Canada, and of course, the United States. It is certainly interesting to learn about the different dancing traditions, and if any of them tickle your fancy you can always give them a go yourself on Square Dance Day.
You may decide to get the entire community together and make an occasion of it. You could hold a competition, with the best square dancers getting a prize. There is nothing wrong with a little bit of healthy competition, right? Plus, dancing is great for bringing people together, which is what communities should be like! Don’t forget that no square dance is going to be complete without some music for the day. Scottish and Irish dances tend to be done to traditional tunes.
This can also be the case in England, although there is often experimentation of different musical styles, especially at ceilidhs. When it comes to American square dancing, different types of music are used depending on the square dance being carried out. One thing that can be for sure, though, is that live music is pretty much essential for a traditional square dance, so do keep this in mind. The only other thing you need to do is make sure there are plenty of snacks and drinks for people to enjoy and you will have the perfect event for National Square Dancing Day.