Lace ‘n’ Levis is a non profit social club established to support the growth of Modern Square Dancing and Social Round Dancing in Northern Utah and South Eastern Idaho. We meet at the Logan Community Recreation Center in Logan Utah. Our club “meetings” (aka club dances) are times for dancing and socializing. At our club dances we both square dance and round dance (choreographed ballroom dance) usually alternating a square dance tip and two round dances.
As a square and round dance club our goal is to promote and advance square and round dancing as a fun and friendly recreational activity. We do this by:
- Providing classes and training activities to new, as well as experienced dancers
- Showcasing the activity through public performances
- Organizing dances
- Participating in associations that are dedicated to the promotion and advancement of square and round dancing
- Providing employment and training opportunities to square dance callers and round dance cuers
A common square dance slogan is “Square dancing is friendship set to music.” Square dancing takes a lot of teamwork, and the people that enjoy it are the sort of people that play well in groups. Square dancers as people range from shy introverts to over the top extroverts; some are computer programmers, others are fine artists, but something they all have in common is that they are almost always very nice people.
Most of all though, Dancing is a lot of fun. It is good exercise, burning almost 400 calories an hour (which is unfortunately almost always offset by the potluck table) and once you have danced long enough, and the calls and cues come automatically to you, it can become almost meditative and the perfect way to relax and get centered after a long day. We spend a lot of time laughing too, so even before the calls come automatically, it is hard to leave a dance in a bad mood.
Modern Western Square Dance
Modern western square dance is directed by a caller. In modern western square dance the caller strings together a sequence of individual square dance calls to make a figure or sequence. These calls are the building blocks of the choreography that is danced by the individuals – square dancers – in the squares. There are eight people (four pairs) in each square; at a dance there may be many squares. Generally speaking, each of these squares dances independently of each other, with the exception of specialty or “gimmick” dances, where there might be some crossover of dancers from one square to another.
Music for modern western square dancing is usually played from recordings. This allows for a variety in music styles to dance to. The tempo is usually 120–128 bpm. At this speed dancers take one step per beat of the music.
The square functions as a “dance team” for the duration of a square dance tip, a group of dances usually separated from the next tip by a pause during which the dancers regroup into new squares. A square dance tip is usually composed of a combination of patter calls and singing calls.
Modern western square dancing is a non-competitive activity. There are no dance competitions, and apart from fun events, no prizes are ever offered or sought for ‘best dancer’ or ‘best square’. Particularly at the ‘challenge’ levels there is large degree of personal satisfaction to be gained from the problem solving element of completing a dance. At all levels the main elements are to enjoy the dance, and to exercise.
Modern western square dancing is found in many countries across the world. The main centers are where United States military servicemen spread the dance during the 1950s through 1980s. Modern square dancing is found in such diverse counties as Japan, Denmark, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Taiwan, Spain, Germany and Australia. The Callerlab organization has standardized dance calls, allowing dancers to dance anywhere in the world.
Round dancing is a is a choreographed and cued ballroom dance that progresses in a circular counter-clockwise pattern around the dance floor. The rhythms that we focus on are waltz, foxtrot, cha cha, rumba, bolero, tango, jive, quickstep, two step, slow two step, and west coast swing.
The dancer learns the routines as well as the names of all the dance steps in each rhythm so that when the music is played the couple can follow the cues that are spoken on the microphone by the cuer, just in time to prompt the next step to be danced. It is this aspect that makes choreographed Ballroom Dancing especially unique. It is also challenging for the mind as well as the body and a joy to behold as every couple on the floor dances each routine in unison.
Choreographed ballroom dancing is also found in many countries around the world. The Roundalab and International Chroeographed Ballroom Dance Association (ICBDA) organizations work on standardizing the round dance activity.
What To Wear
Some square dance clubs insist on a fairly strict dress code: Men must wear long-sleeved shirts (usually Western-style) and long trousers with leather shoes, the ‘ladies’ must wear skirts with petticoats and/or crinolines and appropriate dancing shoes. Lace ‘n’ Levis does not enforce a dress code of any kind. That said, there are some things to keep in mind when deciding what to wear for dancing.
First, be comfortable. When we dance, we move quite a lot, and nothing heats up a room faster that filling it with dancing bodies. In the summer, most of our dancers wear shorts and T-shirts. At any time of year, it would probably be a bad idea to show up for a dance wearing a sweater, however lovely, unless you’re planning to take it off to dance.
On the other hand, be modest. In general it’s a good idea to dance in outfits you wouldn’t be embarrassed to be seen in by your mother. (and if your mother frequents nude beaches, perhaps you might think of someone else’s slightly more conservative mother. She may be dancing in the next square.)
Wear good shoes. There is a lot of turning and spinning in dancing, so your knees and ankles will thank you for wearing shoes that slide easily across the floor. Leather soled-dance shoes are a good choice, as are leather-soled cowboy boots. Bowling shoes also work well, as their leather soles are designed for sliding.
None of this, by the way, precludes your wearing traditional square dance attire if you’d like to. For special dances, I almost always wear a nice Western shirt with jeans and cowboy boots. If twirling around in a big fluffy skirt makes you happy, by all means feel free to indulge.
What To Expect At Square Dance Classes
There are 2 levels of square dance calls that we teach at our club they are called “mainstream” and “plus”. The calls sort of build on each other in some cases and at each class we will review and then teach new calls (Mainstream is a list of about 68 different calls that need to be learned, and there are about 30 more in plus). Classes start in September and we aim to have all of mainstream and plus taught by April (with a break for holidays). After learning all of mainstream and plus we have a graduation ceremony and you become full members of the club! We shoot for April because the Utah State Square and Round Dance Festival is traditionally the first week of May and new dancers who have graduated get in free!
What To Expect At A Club Dance
Club dances have the following schedule:
7:00 pm – 7:30 pm Pre-Rounds
7:30 pm – 9:30 pm Alternating Squares and Rounds
Pre-rounds are a time for just round dances (waltz, cha cha, rumba, two steps, etc.) They generally start with more challenging levels and work their way down to easier levels.
Alternating Square and Round time is the main dance. Here the caller will call a “tip” which is a set of two square dances. The first dance is called a “hash” call which is an unstructured and the music is usually instrumental. The second is called a “singing” call square where the music is often a popular song and the calls are timed to fit. During a singing call the dancers dancing the female part temporarily switch partners in a counter-clockwise order around the square until they return to their original partners. After the tip is finished there are two round dances, the first usually more challenging than the second.
At the end of the night it is traditional to have everyone join hands for a big “Thank you!”
Festivals and Special Dances
There are several regional and state wide dances that are held each year that you can travel to and meet even more new friends! Some of the festivals are multiple day events and often have a nationally known caller and cuer who will lead the dancing and sometime provide teaches :
- The Utah State Square and Round Dance Festival is held in Midway Utah on the first week of May (this is a 2 day event)
- The Rocky Mountain Teachers and Cuers Association (RMTCA) hold an annual Harvest Ball in October (this is all round dancing and is a two day event)
- Each clubs across the state holds a “Anniversary Dance” each year that is a fund raiser for the club and usually has a dinner associated with it
- There is an annual national square dance convention held in different states each year
- There is an annual convention of the International Choreographed Ballroom Dance Association (ICBDA)
- There is an annual convention for the International Association of Round Dance Teacher (ROUNDALAB)
- Each state has their own state festival
Besides these there are many other special events that are scattered throughout the year. You can probably find dancing anywhere and about any time!
Wikipedia contributors. (2021, April 6). Modern western square dance. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 19:06, September 7, 2021, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Modern_western_square_dance&oldid=1016236342
Wikipedia contributors. (2021, March 23). Round dance. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 19:07, September 7, 2021, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Round_dance&oldid=1013825419