Saturday, January 7, 2012
Photo courtesy of Purdue Krazy Eights
I was reading one of the millions of boards I subscribe to and someone asked if anyone knew where to find people who square danced. I laughed, wow did that bring back memories!
The fact is I met my husband at a square dance. I know, humiliating isn't it? To even admit I was there, or that he was. (Thank goodness no one took my picture!) But I was in charge of orientation at college in Bryn Mawr that year and it was the ONE activity that was organized by the administration! The whole student committee dreaded it. But we were troopers. We all showed up. Much to our surprise there were about a hundred men from surrounding schools who also showed up. Were they there to dance? Frankly I think about six danced. I know my future husband didn't! Of course he doesn't dance no matter what kind of dancing it is, unless you count the two foot slow dance shuffle. I guess he wasn't born with rhythym! But the men showed up--thank goodness, so the girls were happy! But that's not the only time square dancing has been part of my life.
The post also reminded me that about five years after I was married when we lived in Harrisburg PA (where the sidewalks rolled up at 9 PM,)sometimes my girl friend, Sue Z. and I would go to Denny's after a, dare I say it, a Tupperware Party! There we were, two young moms, purveyors of all things plastic and indestructable, sitting in Denny's Restaurant with the square dancers (the only other people up that late other than the people working at Denny's.) A bizarre combo-Tupperware Ladies, Square Dancers and the Grand Slam Combo!
At yet a younger age (we're talking grammar school and high school gym classes), square dancing was part of the curriculum at school. (Yes, I admit, I lived out in the sticks!) But we all grew up knowing how to 'allemande left' with panache.
So my quest was to find out if people still square danced and if they did who were the square dancers of today. To my surprise I found square dance clubs across the United States. Some at university centers, and not just hick universities. No, some of the places I found square dance clubs were Purdue University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of San Diego and North Central College. Groups tend to be a combination of students and locals, all getting together to have a down home good time.
North Central University even offers a mathematics class called "The Mathematics of Square Dancing." This elective class shows how square dancing may be utilized to visualize abstract mathematical concepts. (OK, this is way beyond my square dance experience!) Their final exam is administered by one of the top square dance callers in the country.
So I guess it's safe to say that square dancing is alive and well across the United States and across all age groups. One senior commented that keeping up with the physical demands keeps her in shape and the mental acuity needed to keep up with the demands of the caller without making an error keep everyone on their toes.
Square dancing is sure to help keep you young. It benefits the heart, the cardiovascular system, and increases lung capacity. It's said that "the muscle exertion and breathing rates of Square Dancers performing in one evening of dance is equivalent to those of cyclists, swimmers and an Olympic Level 800 meter runner." Wow! Guess my gym teachers were on the right track!