The International Square Dance Magazine


Patrick Demerath

New Wave Dancing Opens the Future

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 from 2000 to 2016. ACA really appreciates the positive comments, encouragement to continue, and 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 dance programs.

This month’s ACA Viewpoint was graciously communicated to ACA from Mary Huber who contacted ACA and is commenting on the ACA Viewpoints in the September edition of the American Square Dance Magazine: “We Can Make the Future”. Mary agreed that we cannot continue to do things the way they have been done because that is simply not working anymore as evidenced by square dancing’s diminishing numbers. She states that square dance leaders and square dance clubs must be careful not to throw out all of our traditions, but finding a way to blend old with new is important. Mary concurred that it was appropriate for clubs and callers to try new teaching methods, and believes that it is appropriate and beneficial to develop a Destination Dancing Level that requires fewer calls and thus fewer weeks of lessons.

Mary and her family dances with the 2x4s (formerly a Plus club, but now a Plus and New Wave club) in Newark, Delaware, which for many years have offered lessons through the local public school system’s Continuing Education Program structured to fit within a semester. She explained that it took three semesters for students to complete the Plus program and thus be eligible to dance at her club. Like many other clubs, the 2x4s were seeing a decline in club membership. In addition to declining health, relocation, and deaths of members, fewer students made it through three semesters. The number of new Plus dancers was not able to keep up with the square dancing’s attrition rate.

In the summer of 2015, the club’s caller-instructor, Clay Goss, presented his idea of the “New Wave” program to the club leadership as a potential solution to decline. New Wave calls are taken from the Basic & Mainstream program, but can be taught and mastered within one semester. The New Wave classes began in fall of 2015, and after completion of one semester in January, the club began dances geared toward the New Wave Dancers.

Another set of New Wave classes began in February and finished in late May. To support this new program, the club even changed its membership requirements. The club dances on Fridays. The 2nd Fridays are New Wave, Plus, and Rounds. The 3rd Fridays are New Wave, and the 4th and 5th Fridays are Plus and Rounds. The New Wave dancers are very energetic and enthusiastic. The club quickly discovered that many of the New Wave dancers want opportunities to dance elsewhere (i.e. other clubs, festivals, conventions, cruises, etc.), but most do not want to take more classes. The club members hope that other clubs will adopt this “destination program” and create more dancing opportunities. At the same time, there are dancers who wish to continue to Plus programs.

In the fall of 2016, the 2x4s will offer classes which will teach the completion of Plus. In Mary’s area some clubs in our area offer Advanced and Challenge. Mary believes that it is important to keep those programs going because they may help with the retention of dancers who are looking for additional challenges.

The Destination Program/New Wave Program’s main idea is really to get more people dancing and involved in our beloved activity. Mary suggests that the members of ACA and Callerlab get together and come up with one Destination Program that can be completed in a semester or less of lessons and is more likely to become universally accepted to attract and retain new dancers, and that the Destination Program should be offered at our local, state, and national dances, festivals, and conventions as the Mainstream level is offered now in addition to the other levels. The ACA one floor program will do this and can be taught in as little as 12-14 weeks.

ACA and the square dance community wish to thank and are indebted to Mary Huber for her contribution and encourages dancers and callers alike to communicate with ACA their ideas, programs, and suggestion so that regardless of where new dancers go in the world they will be able to find a dance, meet new friends, and have fun.

Any individual, club, caller, or association who wishes to communicate his/her opinions on this subject is encouraged to contact the American Callers’ Association at or Dr. Patrick Demerath at  If a square dancer or caller has any ideas of successful recruiting for square dancing, please contact the American Callers Association, and we will publish it for you.

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Until next time, happy dancing,

Fun set to music!