Square dancing is an American dance that originated from the steps and figures used in traditional folk dances from many Countries. In modern square dancing, the dancers are prompted or cued through a sequence of steps by a caller to the beat of music. Square dancers were easily recognized by their attire – colorful dresses and petticoats worn by the ladies and matching western style shirts and ties by the men.
Many people remember square dancing as something their grandparents did or they learned in elementary school. However, square dancing has evolved a great deal over the years. Callers now use modern country, rock, and pop music when calling dances appealing to younger individuals. Dancers are also not required to wear the traditional dress with a petticoat, although many still do.
Square dancing is a wholesome family oriented hobby that provides a fun way to exercise, meet new friends, fellowship with people from all over the world, and is appropriate for all ages.
Shawnee Square Eights lessons are being held Tuesdays and Thursdays 7-9 p.m. at the First Christian Church, 1605 N Broadway, Shawnee. Lessons are $3 per person per lesson. Open enrollment will end Jan. 14.
In 1982, the 97th Congress recognized the history and importance of square dancing passing a joint Resolution designating it as the national folk dance of the United States. Since that time, 32 states have also designated square dancing as the official state folk dance including Oklahoma, when in 1988 Governor Henry Bellmon signed a bill that designated square dancing as the official Oklahoma state folk dance.
Square dancers are typically members of a designated club and district in Oklahoma, but can dance at any event in any state, US or other countries. A national convention is held every year including the recent event held in Oklahoma City that was attended by over 4,100 dancers from all over the world.
Oklahoma currently has eight square dance districts statewide. The Central District Square Dance Association is comprised of 17 dance clubs in central Oklahoma. This organization was formed over 50 years ago and has over 500 members who are active dancers. Shawnee Square Eights is one of the clubs in the Central District and was established in 1965. Members of this club meet and dance at the Shawnee Senior Citizens Center on 10th and Bell in Shawnee. Jim Woolsey serves as the Caller for the club. He has been a square dance caller for over 20 years, teaching hundreds of individuals how to dance. He has also called at dances all over the United States.
Lessons are provided by Club Callers with experienced dancers serving as helpers called “Angels.” Several clubs in the Central District will begin lessons in January including Shawnee Square Eights. For more information, please call (405) 273-7113 or visit the Central District website at http://www.cdsda.com.
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Editor’s Note: This article was submitted by Mary Reznicek.