The International Square Dance Magazine

Dana Schirmer

Talk It Up! Square Dancing!

The 2015 CALLERLAB Convention will be held March 30 through April 1, 2015, at the University Plaza Hotel in Springfield, Missouri. The National Square Dance Convention will be held in Springfield, Massachusetts, and the CALLERLAB Convention will be held in Springfield, Missouri. The theme for the CALLERLAB Convention is “Talk It Up! Square Dancing”, emphasizing social media to promote the square dance activity. During the 2014 Convention, our keynote marketing specialist, Patrick Schwerdtfeger, noted that people are not talking about square dancing because people aren’t talking about square dancing. His research showed that during the last ten years the number of people searching Google for the term “square dancing” has decreased by 60%. His recommendation was that callers and dancers need to do more to present square dancing in positive media presentations – especially social media.

Who should attend a CALLERLAB Convention? Anyone who is currently a square dance leader or plans to become a leader within clubs and/or organizations should attend. CALLERLAB Conventions are not exclusive to members. Any caller or dancer may attend and share in the exchange of ideas and experiences. There is a plethora of interest sessions to choose from including technical, choreographic, non-callers and committee meetings of various interests including history, youth activities, marketing, education and much more.

An impressive roster of talent will be presenting seminars and panels aimed at giving you the tools to help market square dancing better in the future using modern media techniques. If you’re wondering how you can recruit more beginners and retain them, make your classes more appealing, raise the profile of square dancing in your area, train more successful dancers, and re-energize your existing groups, you will find sessions that speak to these topics and many others. There will be panels, demonstrations, committee meetings, and discussions of ways to win the recruiting and retention challenges facing the square dance activity. We will be asking attendees to provide input on dancing, calling and also contributing to various committee projects. This is your opportunity to make your voice heard where it counts!

Although the Convention doesn’t officially get started until the morning of Monday, March 30, many attendees arrive ahead of this date to enjoy various activities leading into the Convention. There will be a Community Dance Leadership Seminar starting on Saturday morning, which will help you learn to provide an entertaining evening of dance entertainment using a limited vocabulary. This session will run from Saturday morning to Sunday afternoon and includes a Sunday afternoon dance.

Sunday evening activities start with a social reception. An orientation session to help new attendees plan to get the most out of the Convention follows. A Youth dance will be presented from 8:00 to 10:00pm Sunday evening. This dance will be open to the general public and will provide an opportunity to enjoy an evening of youthful fun dancing.

Special interest sessions and committee meetings begin following the opening session Monday morning. Four parallel threads of 75-minute slots run through the rest of Monday and all day Tuesday. With only one or two exceptions, committee meetings are open to everyone, not just committee members. If you would like to see what is currently going on in a particular committee, this is your chance. A wide variety of interest sessions and panels is available; again, open to anyone who is interested. There are also sessions on marketing, recruiting, business, a visit with the legends, enhancing club social ties, and much more. There is literally something for everyone.

Many of these sessions include panel discussions where you can interact with the speakers and other audience members to share experience and expertise. These sessions (attended not only by callers, but also partners and dance leaders representing organizations from around the world) are immensely valuable in providing a broad perspective and keen insight into issues we face. They provide a powerful vehicle for sharing insights and opinions and forging new understandings.

As productive as the meetings and sessions are, many people say the most valuable part of Convention is the opportunity for informal networking, reconnecting with old friends, and making new friends. The breaks between sessions, meals, and evening banquets are all structured to promote this type of activity.

Again, anyone is welcome to attend. Attending a CALLERLAB Convention is the best way to rejuvenate enthusiasm, learn some new techniques and input your ideas to what should be and can be done in the future. For members, attending our conventions is no longer a requirement. However, once you attend, you will want to return in the future. For dancers and non-members, you will be glad you attended and participated in this event. Everyone will return home with new information, new tools, new ideas, and new energy to help the square dance activity in your area. If you would like to register or get more information, contact the Home Office by phone at: 785-783-3665 or 800-331-2577, email at; or visit the website at

We look forward to seeing you in Springfield, Missouri in March 2015!

Fun set to music!