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Hosting a Square Dance

If you find yourself on an organization’s entertainment committee, or just looking to have some fun with your friends, why not host a square dance? You could also call it a “country hoedown” or a “barn dance,” and watch how the faces light up as they learn the steps of this American institution. Dancers get to interact with each other without the intimate closeness.

Dave Smith is a square dance caller in South Lyon, Michigan. He says barns are an idyllic setting, but people also use church halls and school cafeterias. Plan on about 20-square-feet-per-dancer so everyone can move comfortably, and a bare floor is preferable over carpet. You’ll also need music, and someone to call the dances.
"I would prefer a caller that does old fashioned American square dances rather than Western-style square dances," says Smith. "Old fashioned American square dances are simple, they’re easily taught, not complicated, which is what you want for a one-night party. You want just simple dances that are going to get you dancing really quick, and not have to learn all the details of some complicated calls."

You can do-si-do, swing your partner, and promenade without having to wear the fancy, traditional square dance costumes. Smith says the attire should depend on how you market the event.

"If it’s marketed as a barn dance or something like that, people will tend to wear cowboy boots and a cowboy hat, or a flannel shirt or something. For daddy-daughter dances the girls and the fathers usually tend to dress up, and then there’s a lot of other events like a church hoedown that’s in their parish hall where people dress a lot more casual," says Smith.  

Have refreshments for the group, and plan to start the dancing around 7:00-7:30. Square dances usually last two-and-a-half-hours. Of course you’ll need to pay the caller for the evening. Plan on anywhere from $150-$400, depending on your location.

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