Whatever happened to …

… square dancing? The topic came back to mind this past Wednesday when Stephen Hurley and I were talking about Physical Education on our This Week in Ontario Edublogs voicEd Radio show. The discussion was about the difference between “gym” and “Physical Education” and was inspired by a blog post from Andrea Haefele “Behind Gym’s Doors“.  One of my memories was a two week unit in Phys Ed dealing with square dancing.  It was the only time that our classes were co-ed and we were taught the basics.  I thought it might have been a unique Huron County thing but Stephen recalled learning it as well. Small world. Of course, we had been exposed to square dancing on television with Don Messer’s Jubilee which was broadcast on the Wingham CKNX station.
Can you picture me dressed like that?  I can’t either; it wasn’t a dress up event for us.  And, we would never, ever have been allowed to use those types of shoes on the gym floor. When we learned that we would be doing square dancing, I recall the rolling eyes and groans.  Were they trying to make us go back in time? It turned out to be one of the more fun times.  We did learn the basics and did things like spinning, bowing, alemande lefting and alemande righting, and promenading the lady home.  So popular was this unit that the teachers left the music and caller playing in the gym during lunchtime and we took advantage of it.  It still is an issue that my wife brings up from time to time because I danced with another girl in my class.  Whatever happened to her? I’m sure that we were marked on our dancing abilities! Once I was out of high school, it became a fond memory.  I’m sure that I never thought about it at university and I don’t recall it being an activity at my high school.  But, a couple of years ago, we were bored and decided to see if it was available anywhere locally for adults.  Naturally, we ended up at a country bar.  They did have a mechanical bull – we never had one at school – that would have been fun.  But, alas, no square dancing. Square dancing is quickly becoming a memory everywhere as this CBC story attests.  There are no local clubs listed here. For a Sunday morning, your thoughts?
  • did you ever square dance – at school or elsewhere?
  • does your school do a unit on square dancing at all these days?
  • if you were inclined to try square dancing, where would you turn in your community?
  • have you ever ridden a mechanical bull?
  • is there an element of our heritage that has done missing by not making square dancing available?
Please share your thoughts in the comments below. This post is part of a regular Sunday series.  You can visit them all here. If you’ve got an idea for a post, I’d like to hear about it.  You can add it to the Padlet designed just for this purpose.

Author: dougpete

The content of this blog is generated by whatever strikes my fancy at any given point. It might be computers, weather, political, or something else in nature. I experiment and comment a lot on things so don't take anything here too seriously; I might change my mind a day later but what you read is my thought and opinion at the time I wrote it! My personal website is at: http://www.dougpeterson.ca Follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dougpete I'm bookmarking things at: http://www.diigo.com/user/dougpete

7 thoughts on “Whatever happened to …”

  1. Oh my gosh, Doug! I totally remember square dancing. Now with dance being part of The Arts Document, I wonder if it’s usually taught separately from Phys-Ed. Could square dancing still be a part of it? I wish I could remember the dance expectations better. It was often one of my preps when I taught 1-6. Would love to know what others have experienced.

    Aviva

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  2. I remember doing a whole dance unit in Phys Ed in the 80s. Square dancing, foxtrot and the bossanova too. I remember enjoying it much more than gymnastics. The University of Guelph always had square dancing as a part of College Royale. But I haven’t been to one for a while, so maybe not. Maybe you and the Mrs. could start a revival club down your way!

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  3. Stuyvesant has a Ballroom Dance elective that seniors can take and I think they do a bit of square dancing.

    As to me, I get to do it once a year. There’s a light tech conference every fall in NY called Catskillsconf (http://catskillsconf.com) which I’d describe as light tech conference meets summer camp. Each year we get to enjoy a concert with Mike and Ruthy (http://www.mikeandruthy.com/) followed by square dancing. Lots of fun.

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  4. When I ran a summer recreation program for 5 – 12 year olds we had a theme each week. One week we did a ‘Western’ theme with a bike rodeo and square dancing. The kids loved it! There was a square dancing group that met weekly at Ecole L’envolee on Ottawa Street. It looked like they were having so much fun. Maybe you could join them!

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  5. It must have been part of the Ontario curriculum in the 70s, as my school in Kenora had a square dancing unit too! Same as you recall: those lessons would be co-ed. part of “gym” class. I think we had them in Gr. 6 and 7. I have always enjoyed dancing, but I certainly recall not liking the square dancing lessons. It might have been difficult for the teachers do get pre-teens in the spirit of it. Well, maybe the Virginia Reel was a bit fun.

    At our wedding in the late 80s, our DJ included a number of square and polka dances near the beginning of the dancing time. Floor was full! It was like a customary thing at weddings back then. That and the chicken dance and the butterfly…

    That would be it for my experiences. I think there are local classes for folk and ballroom dancing in T. Bay, so maybe some square dancing gets covered too.

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  6. We had to try this in elementary school. All of the girls were taller than all the boys which make it awkward for everyone.

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