Square Games

Cinda writes:
"Just wondering if you have ever considered square dancing as play or fun?

"As I read the information on your website, it brought to mind my favorite activity square dancing. I have done this for over 30 years and believe that the combination of the mental and physical activity are the best thing for my health physical and mental.

"My husband is a square dance caller and it is his job to choreograph everyone. The moves are standardized but they can be put in lots of different combinations. He usually is working in his head about three calls ahead of the dancers. As a dancer, we try to do what he calls in the order that he calls it. It is sort of a team sport since all 8 people in a square are doing what he calls and need to be in the proper position to make it work. The reward is getting back "to your corner." And if the square breaks down, we usually just laugh and reform and start again. It is a great stress reliever."

Major Fun replies: No

That is, not until now. I guess, until you prompted me to some further research, Square Dancing always seemed to me to be, well, square. I thought of it as a fairly rigid activity, where only the people who knew all the steps could really play. I thought of it as resistant to change and innovation and spontaneity. Happily, I am dead wrong.

Take, for example, Clark Baker's description of Square Games. These are games for people who already know all the right moves, as it were. He explains: "Assume that you know how to square dance. Not only that, but that you are good at it. Perhaps you have already learned some Advanced and Challenge dancing. Perhaps you are even a little bored at the current dance, weekend, festival, or convention. Or perhaps you just want a slight change to make things interesting. What you need is a square game -- something you or your square can do while the caller is calling to the rest of the folks."

I found his "ground rules for this type of dancer-led fooling around" both eminently practical, and somehow soberingly poignant:
  • Obtain your squares' cooperation

  • Do it in the back of the hall

  • Don't bother others

  • Don't disrupt the calling

  • Don't come across as being better than everyone else

  • Don't seem like you are having way more fun than everyone else

For the rest of us non-squares, dancing-wise, I found this Square Dancing 101 conceptually quite helpful. To get some insight into the games callers play, see the generously explicated David's Dance Caller's Home Page.

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