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Square Dancing notes of the moment

2017-04-21 16:32:10.952839+00 by Dan Lyke 0 comments

Last night Charlene and I went to the Petaluma Arts Center Idea Lounge with Scott Lowrie and Laura Sunday. Laura is the driving force behind Taste of Petaluma and the Great Petaluma Chili Cook-Off, and attributes her abilities to run those events to discovering roller dancing, 20 years ago, when she was 50.

One of the things she talked about was being the grand dame of roller dancing in Golden Gate Park now, only one regular dancer older than her (85 to her 70), how the activity was being filled by younger dancers. Given that in Modern Western Square Dancing she'd be about mid-range in age, I went up afterwards and asked what she thought was dragging in the kids, and a few notions stuck:

Her first association with square dancing (and most people's) was "well, these are urban kids, they don't go for that kind of music". Good point, we need to work on more modern and relevant music. This is complicated by the issue that MWSD really needs lyric-less music, because we're all about the choreography.

She also commented that in Sundays at Golden Gate Park there are huge swing dancing groups, so it's not like modern music is everything. Though Postmodern Jukebox, The Basement Jaxx, and similar have helped keep the swing music revival going.

She made a comment about breaking traditions, and new paths. As much as I love what CALLERLAB has made square dancing, having standardized calls means that innovation only happens with new calls (choreography has largely been "done", especially as we look at how much of what used to be called back in the '60s and '70s as "bad flow" or worse). So the institutional rigidity has pretty much stopped innovation and adoption from other dance styles.

She also commented, as most people do, "Oh yeah, I did that back in grade school". Which, of course, brought to mind Pappy Shaw's admonition (from the nineteen teens or twenties: "Please do not teach these dances to little children. Grade-school pupils may enjoy them but it will mark the dances forever in your community with the stigma of "kid stuff.""). And is something I need to think about as my club talks about bringing in home school students.

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