There are 8 people in a square, which is broken down to two persons on each side of the square. A Caller instructs or “calls” the moves for the dancers to make, following the beat of a song. Square Dancing is performed to any music, which has a steady count of four beats. If you can count to four, you can square dance!
What is Round Dancing?
Couples dance to the instructions of a Cuer (similar to a Caller) to the beat of a song. The primary dance styles cued are two-step and waltz. Dancers move in a counter clockwise circle during the dance.
Is it hard to learn?
Square Dancing is both mental and physical. Learning the calls requires a certain degree of concentration and memorization. Lessons are cumulative and a review of prior steps taught is conducted before moving to new steps each week. By the time lessons are complete, many of the calls will be second nature to you.
In addition, lessons have experienced Square Dancers (referred to as Angels) in each square to assist with learning the dance steps. These people are there to help you learn and to have fun. After all – learning should be a fun experience!
Lessons are held once a week for approximately 1-½ hours. Each class moves at the pace of learning, however the general time frame from start to completion is January to Mid-May.
In addition approximately ½ way through the lesson time, actual dances are held with the calls performed at the level to which the dancers have progressed. These dances are in lieu of lessons and have a special name called a “Jamboree”.
Experienced dancers are always at lessons to assist in the learning process. Within a very short time you will meet and make friends with a number of club and class members.
Singles are welcome. If a “new dancer” partner is not available, an Angel will be your partner.
The first lesson is free. Remaining lessons are $5 per person, with a family discount available, when three or more family members take lessons.
People of all ages dance with lessons offered to anyone, 9 years old and above.
According to studies, Square Dancing is an excellent aerobic and mental exercise. In addition, dancing is a social event where you meet many people with at least one similar interest. Since physical activity is proven to increase endorphins (the chemical in your brain which increases pleasure), most people find that after a square dance they have less stress and are happier.
What happens after we finish lessons?
Once you have finished lessons, you can attend any Square Dance at any club. In the Portland Metro area, you can find a dance almost every day of the week, if you want to.
Typically at a Dance squares are created and two dances occur (this is referred to as a Tip). The first dance in the Tip is a Patter Call (no song verse), and the second dance is a Singing Call.
The Tip is then followed by two round dances, which can be Two Step, Waltz or a combination.
The Tip and Round dance pattern is repeated through the evening.
Most dances include a break for refreshments sometime during the evening.
You are not required to dance every dance in the evening. You may choose to sit out a tip, round or both.
Most dances in Oregon and Washington are $4 to $6 per person. Most clubs have a family rate at a lower cost.
The Toe Draggers is a Mainstream Square Dancing Club. Mainstream, including the Basic level, is what we teach in classes. Our Round Dance classes teach beginning Two Step and Waltz. Later, some choose take additional lessons at more advanced levels, but this is not necessary.
Do I really have to wear one of those funny outfits?
Lessons are casual dress. For dances, Women are requested to wear dresses or skirts (Prairie skirts are often worn). Petty coats with full skirts are actually fun to wear, but not necessary. Men wear long sleeve shirts and often jeans. Shoes should be comfortable for dancing.
Is there food at the dances?
Good Dancing, Good Food, and Good Fun! Is our motto. Potluck is our mainstay at meetings, dances and other functions. We have some very good cooks in our group!
While it is not necessary to join a square dance club, you will find it beneficial to do so. Generally clubs hold other functions for social and dance activities, in addition to regular dances.
The Toe Draggers is an incorporated not for profit club. Member fees cover the hall rental, Caller and Cuer fees, and other general club expenses. Members in the Toe Draggers receive reduced fees for Square Dances, but are also requested to help with small duties such as door tickets a few times a year.
Because Square Dance clubs sponsor the dances, your support in joining a club is appreciated, but this decision is up to you.
There are over 100 Square Dance and Round Dance Clubs in Oregon alone. Washington also has over 100 clubs. If you go skiing in Central Oregon or vacation at the beach, there is always a club nearby. The Oregon Federation of Square and Round Dance Clubs publishes the OFN News, a monthly magazine, which gives current dance location and information. Look at the “Links” page on this web site for more information.
Square Dancing is a worldwide activity where many international dances are called in English. In nearly every part of the United States, Europe, Japan, etc. you can find a Square Dance to attend Don’t worry, square dancing has standardized steps and some of the friendliest people. A square dancer is just a friend you have not yet met.