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Learning to Square Dance

by Nikki Montgomery

This past weekend was the Wisconsin State Square Dancing Convention. I know a couple that is super into it and keep telling me how fun it is. Well, Saturday night there was an instructional hour where they taught square dancing to anyone interested in learning. So I went...with Lee Peek. We had no idea what to expect. All I knew about square dancing prior to this is that they teach it in elementary gym class.

I learned that there are 4 types of dancing that fall under the square dancing heading. The square dance which is 4 couples, or 6 couples if you want to get really crazy, all dancing together listening to a caller. The round dance which is two people dancing together listening to a cuer. The line dance which we all know. The contra is the last type of dance and the oldest. It is the fancy dancing from the 1700s that you see in movies.

The square dance - This is actually much easier that it looks. Once you learn what the calls mean all you have to do is listen. The whole group dances together, but you still have a partner.

The round dance - This is a dance you do with a partner. It's more like the foxtrot and such. You still listen for what you're supposed to do, but you are directed by a cuer instead of a caller.

The line dance - This is a group dance where everyone gets into lines and does the same moves. You've all seen it done to a lot of country music.

The contra - This is my favorite. This is the fancy dance I mentioned above. If you've ever seen a movie featuring 18th or early 19th century royalty you've seen this type of dancing. This is where the men are in one line and the women are in a line directly across from them about 5 feet away. You do dance and spin with your partner, but always return to the line.

I only danced for an hour and 15 minutes and had blisters on the tops of my feet!

I learned that square dancers live an average of 10 years longer because of the cardio. At a weekend of dancing like at this convention a dancer can put on 25 miles...nearly a marathon! In an evening of dance you'll put on about 6. Square dancing is so much more fun than running on a treadmill.

Kids who square dance get better grades because they learn to listen better.

There are square dancing conventions in all 50 states.

You can square dance in any country because it's always called in English. Yes there is square dancing in other countries. It was established here and spread around the world through our military mostly.

Square dance was started in the U.S., but it has it roots in Western European culture. When the U.S. was settled by the Western Europeans they brought their dances with them, but when they started intermingling, thanks to the melting pot that America is, the dances blended into what we know today as square dancing.

If you haven't tried it you should add it to your bucket list. You won't regret it. It really is fun.