The International Square Dance Magazine

By Patrick Demerath

The ACA Fundamental Beliefs

The American Callers’ Association in its attempt to be of service to all callers, dancers, and associations has provided current, timely, and effective information on new dancer recruitment, winning ways to retain club dancers, and pitfalls that drive square dancers away for the past fifteen years. ACA really appreciates the positive comments, encouragement to continue, and the contributions from callers and dancers all over North America and 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 and segregationist dance programs.

This month’s ACA Viewpoint was communicated from callers and dancers advancing thoughts on why square dancing is declining. Today there is an uneasy consensus among dancers and callers which holds that square dancing is neither as it used to be nor what it ought to be. We all agree that, while there are not as many callers as twenty years ago, there are even fewer dancers. The one thing that none of us can deny is that we no longer have the once copious flow of new students into our square dance classes that we enjoyed in years past. The flow has shrunk to a trickle or none at all.

The truth is that the one and two square clubs that we have today would not have been considered a good “basement group” in the 1970s. Beyond these areas of accord and mutual commiseration, we began to diverge and quibble. We can agree that some things are wrong. Talking to people that have quit square dancing, it’s not hard to figure out. We can agree that something is wrong, but not what to do about it. At this moment we are doing relatively little or nothing about it and the downward trend continues. The sad truth is that there is a quick fix for the ills that have been building up over the past two decades while we waited for things to improve. It did not and will not happen. Until all of us agree upon, and put into effect an effective and workable course of action, the decline in square dancing will not only continue, but it will worsen.

 The American Callers Association (ACA) has applied logic, facts, experience and reason to the problem of our shrinking numbers and has come up with a workable and effective solution. Do away with existing segregationist barriers between dancers and return to the days of the undesignated dancer. In other words, we should discard the present Basic, Mainstream and Plus lists. We should replace these levels, lists, programs or whatever with a program of square dance choreography that can be mastered in a reasonable amount of time and that will include the very best and most useful calls. By doing so, we can bring all dancers back together on one floor and put the fun back in square dancing.

No longer will dancers be labeled and categorized in divisive/segregated manners. No longer will dancers be forced to spend inordinate lengths of time in classes to become a square dancer and then not be welcomed by existing dancers. (This will put 95% of all dancers back together.) We should condense the current list of Basic, Mainstream and Plus into one single, sensible, and manageable program which need be called merely “Square Dancing.”

The American Callers Association is not only furnishing the concept, we have also worked out the details. Reviewing tapes of recent dances held in many areas of the country, the information showed that 95% of the dances were called with 50 or less calls. The calls were in terms of frequency of use and the popularity that dominates our square dance choreography. The determination of these calls was made in an entirely objective manner, with no preconceived bias toward or against any call.

Using these analytical studies as a basis, American Callers has developed a recommended list of calls, including the order in which they can be taught during the learning cycle that forms the keystone of the “One Floor Program.”

Remember this is a recommended list and it can be modified even more.

The “One Floor Program” can be downloaded from our web page.

Obviously, this solution will require a degree of sacrifice and cooperation among callers and dancers that so far has never achieved. Everyone is going to have to give up something in the common cause. The rewards of doing so can be very great. The penalties of not doing so are even greater.

Persons wishing to know more about the “One Floor Program” may contact Mac Letson at  or write to American Callers at P.O. Box 2406, Muscle Shoals AL 35662, or call 256-383-7583. Should you choose this as your program of square dancing (club, association or state); please furnish any caller that you have to call for you a copy of this list. As more input comes in, we may have changes to this proposal. The dancers we talk with like what they hear. Callers that have been teaching by this list report they keep about 80% of their new dancers. Most of the callers we have talked to say that they think square dancing would better with just one program below advance and challenge.

Some of the Advantages of the ACA One Floor Program:
1. Can conduct more than one class per year (approximately 12 -14 Weeks each class)
2. Planning a special dance is made easier.
3. Brings about a better caller and dancer attitude and unifies the dancers and callers.
4. Makes recruiting and the retention of new dancers easier.

We at The American Callers’ Association believe that these are just a few advantages of the ACA One Floor Program, I am sure you can think of many more. Please send ACA your thoughts and suggestions.

The Board of Directors of the American Callers’ Association invites each of you to visit our website and newsletters at and communicate with us. “Give us your ideas. We Will Listen”. Please visit our website to view the ACA and newsletters at

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

All dancers and callers are encouraged to visit and use the ACA website.

Until next time, happy dancing. 

Fun set to music!