The International Square Dance Magazine

Patrick Demerath

The Changing World of Square Dancing

The American Callers’ Association in its attempt to be of service to all callers, dancers, and associations provided current, timely, and effective information on new dancer recruitment, winning ways to retain club dancers, and pitfalls to drive square dancers away from 2000 to the present. ACA really appreciates the positive comments, encouragement to continue, and contributions from callers and dancers all over the country and from abroad to continue these initiatives. ACA will continue to provide information that will help the square dance community recruit, retain and retrieve square dancers as well as encourage the dancers to speak out on the cumbersome dance programs.

Christmas is coming as well as a new year. We as Americans have so very much to be thankful for and recognize the many blessings we have every day including the Bill of Rights freedoms, family and friends, and countless others. Much as Christmas changed the course of history, this month’s ACA Viewpoint presents an interesting and exciting narrative on the adapting to the continuously changing world of square dancing. Theoretically, how can square dancers, square dance leaders, and callers prosper during these constant changes of lifestyles in contemporary American society with its underlying rule that Americans (Square Dancers) are a resilient survivor society. We can appreciate the fact that people will join square dancing, but they will not accept long periods of instruction. They are willing to pay their money and demand a good time. Too much instruction destroys the good time atmosphere.

If we look at the principles of marketing, it won’t take but a minute to learn that the pace of change in our society is intense. Those of my generation were often discouraged by the concept of “planned obsolescence” in the products we buy. Automobiles and televisions etc. had a life span that was quite short. Although automobiles and televisions have a longer life span today, we live in a world where the computer bought one day is soon outdated. Just look at the incredible and miraculous changes in medical care and prevention of many diseases.

The demand for a good time and rate of change places great stress on square dancing as well as families, businesses, and governments. The goal of square dancing might be considered to be stability, but the driving dynamics of our contemporary society is change. How can we resolve this continuing saga of contradictions?

The primary responsibility of square dance leaders is to assure the survival of our beloved activity. Thus, the American Callers’ Association spends considerable time supporting callers and researching for answers to reverse the steep decline in square dancing. ACA spends many hours researching methods to recruit new dancers, retain current dancers, and return former dancers to square dancing. THIS MUST BE THE CHIEF CONCERN OF EVERY LEADER, CALLER AND ORGANIZATION IN SQUARE DANCING. Square dancing can transform the lives of countless people by offering them a healthy and fun filled program filled with fun and friendship. This transformation of peoples’ lives cannot be done without leaders working daily.

The health problems of many Americans, it can be argued that there is a pressing need for square dancing. Many people in various stages of their life often feel that there are things missing in their lives. They tell us in surveys, interviews, and focus groups that they want to feel connected with other people. Perhaps, they wish to be rescued from the enslavement of cable television and the internet. They further tell us that they want to do something worthwhile, rewarding, fun with a sense of accomplishment, and they wish to keep growing personally. This is what square dancing could be about now as it has been.

The key problem that square dance leaders, associations, clubs and callers’ have to solve does not concern what square dancing offers; it concerns how we can communicate what it offers. PERSONAL INVOLVEMENT in spreading the good news of square dancing is the key to success. Please remember that expensive advertising campaigns are non-personal communications and may only inform or remind people about square dancing. Individual human to human promotions are very inexpensive and personal and are far more effective and meaningful.

The individual square dancer and caller coupled with a more fun and simple dance program are the best solutions we have to stop the steep decline of square dancing membership. People of all ages can be asked to come to a square dance party or open house. We can do a big favor for square dancing by communicating the health, social, and fun benefits of square dancing. Think about the many friendships you have formed, and the opportunities to be of service to others. Think about the fact the care and consideration so often manifested in square dancing still matters in the world.

During this Christmas and festive period, talk with your friends and acquaintances about square dancing. Enthusiastically, explain the exercise, fun and friendship benefits. Accompany them to the open house fun dances and welcome them into the world of square dancing. Then and only then will our beloved activity master the many changes of today’s society and carry square dancing, viable, growing, and dynamic into the renaissance it so richly deserves.

Any individual, club, caller, or association who wishes to communicate his/her opinions on this subject or communicate their success story in recruiting is encouraged to contact the American Callers’ Association at or Dr. Patrick Demerath at

The board of directors, staff, and members of the American Callers’ Association wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Happy dancing!

Fun set to music!