The International Square Dance Magazine
AMERICAN CALLERS' ASSOC. VIEWPOINTS

By
Patrick Demerath

Creativity and Sensitivity

Creativity and Sensitivity
Square Dancing Public Relations

(Dancing, Health and Social Fairs)

The American Callers’ Association (ACA), as do all dedicated dance organizations, continues to work for a healthy recovery for our dance activity. It has done so by providing effective information relevant to all callers, dancers, and club leadership from 2000 to the present. Our principal interest lies in dance program planning that can contribute to an emerging marketing program, and we are committed to help improve the way all dance groups attract, teach and hold the interest of new dancers. ACA acknowledges the importance of supporting the unified marketing efforts necessary to successfully reverse the attendance and membership decline, experienced over the last two decades.

Our ‘VIEWPOINT’ this month offers two ideas that can have a positive effect on your recruiting efforts. The first idea points out how important it is to maintain a positive attitude toward the future of our activity, especially when new dancers are present. When new dancers enter the square dancing family today, they often encounter more seasoned dancers talking about the past days of too many dancers for the hall size. They describe how square dancing used to be one of the most popular activities in their city or town, and how people tried to enter square dancing classes, but could not because the classes were full.

Conversations often drift into a debate over why square dancing’s numbers have fallen over the past two decades. Many square dancers come to the conclusion that, because of changes in society, square dancing has lost its appeal to the public, but they stop short of addressing the issues of how do we counter these changes and attract new squarer dancers now. In the meantime, the new dancers have been discouraged about their own dancing future.

All dance organizational leadership is being asked to seek new approaches to how they present square dancing to the new generations of dance prospects – to think “out side the box” (or outside the square). The second idea came from just that kind of insight. The author has participated in multiple University Career Fairs, where many different organizations with common interest, pooled their resources, gained supportive sponsorship, and invited other area colleges and universities, companies, government organizations and area students to participate for the purpose of gaining a common good. The results were outstanding.

Perhaps, the University Career Fair concept could be used to make square dancing more visible to the community. One idea would be to not only invite all square, line and round dancing organizations to participate but also other organizations with similar goals, like, ballroom dance, Tai Chi, health, and other social organizations to participate in a “Dancing, Health, and Social Activities Fairs” in shopping malls on a weekend before a major holiday hoping that the pre-holiday shopping would best maximize square dancing’s and shopping exposure. Public service announcements could be submitted to local cable television companies and radio stations to help spur visitations to the mall on the weekends in question. Flyers could be mailed to area churches, universities and schools promoting the “Dancing Social and Health Activities Fair”.

 At the fair each organization would have a table to display posters and provide information about what they do for the community and could wear their appropriate costumes such as square dancing, line dancing, or martial arts clothing and may demonstrate their dancing etc.

The mall-based “Dancing, Social and Health Activities Festival” can be a success on many levels as it will provide an opportunity for people to ask questions about square dancing and meet a square dancer. Secondly, organizations will receive inquiries about square dancing etc. that could result in new members. Thirdly, visitors to the festival may ask for an application to join square dance lessons. Organizations that have banded together to increase exposure to the public have had success recruiting new members. In some cases, mall authorities recognized the increased customer traffic and sales and have asked the groups to schedule a follow on “Dancing Social and Health Activities Fair.”

Any individual, club, caller, or association who wishes to communicate his/her opinions on this subject is encouraged to contact the American Callers’ Association at Loulet@aol.com or Dr. Patrick Demerath at demerath@uwa.edu.

ACA’s promise to you. If you will send us your ideas to help reverse the decline of square dancing, we will print it.

Until next time, happy dancing.

Fun set to music!