Croakers Square

Square dancing today enjoys enormous popularity across the globe. Square dancing has a long history and has done quite a bit of migration, which has changed the character of the dance depending on the local culture where square dancing is introduced. In this post we’ll cover the origin of square dancing, its migration, and what square dancing looks like today.

Origins of Square Dancing

In the Western world, dancing has been viewed differently across different cultures as varying times in history. It is hard to believe now, but there was once a time when dancing was viewed as a lewd activity. However, starting in the fifteen century, dance was becoming more acceptable in certain cultures in the West, particularly in Italy.

In seventeenth century England, the first instances of square dancing were recorded. At that time, country dances – including various line, circle, and square dances – were in vogue across all social classes in England. Similar dances were also popular in France, where the Quadrille is said to be the first dance to emerge that resembles square dancing in its modern form today.

Migration of Square Dancing

From its roots in England and France, square dancing traveled further into Europe and across the Atlantic Ocean into North America. As the dance traveled away from its origin, people made slight changes as parts of the dance were forgotten or deliberately altered. Pilgrims in the present-day United States square danced all the way to the Pacific Ocean as they brought the dance with them as they settled the West.

On the East coast of the United States, square dancing was particularly well-preserved in the Appalachian Mountains, where the spirit of square dancing is still alive and well today.

Square dancing also migrated across the world when the cowboy craze swept the globe in the early twentieth century. Square dancing is associated with the culture of the “wild wild West,” so when the globe’s fascination with cowboy culture took hold, people across the globe learned how to square dance in order to experience some of that culture from the comfort of their home.

Square Dancing Today

Square dancing in the modern era refers to a dance with eight people paired into four couples. Each couple stands on one side of the invisible square (from which the dance gets its name) and faces inward so as to see the other couples. Most square dances today also have a caller, who may be one of the dancers or may be an additional person at the dance.

Today, there is some confusion over the actual term square dancing. Some people use it to refer to barn dances in general, where not a single square dance may happen at one of these alleged “square dances.” The term for square dancing and its particular rules also vary by location.

Square dancing is still popular across the globe for a good reason: because it is still as fun and exciting today as when the dance was invented!

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