The International Square Dance Magazine


Patrick Demerath

Lifetime Friendships: The Gift Square Dancing

Before starting this month’s ACA Viewpoint, the Board of Directors and the members of the American Callers’ Association would like to express a very Merry Christmas to all square dancers and to thank Bill and Randy Boyd (the owners of American Square Dance magazine) for allowing ACA to publish literature in the prestigious American Square Dance magazine, and we wish them good luck and a prosperous future.

The American Callers’ Association in its attempt to be of service to all callers, dancers, and associations provided current, timely, and effective information on new dancer recruitment, winning ways to retain club dancers, and pitfalls to drive square dancers away for most of 2000 to 2016. ACA really appreciates the positive comments, encouragement to continue, and contributions from callers and dancers all over the country and from 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 discusses a very meaningful bond of Lifetime Friendships that is best exemplified in terms of LONG TERM DEEP FRIENDSHIPS that last lifetimes. Square dancers understand this and often invite people to try square dancing and benefit in the lifetime friendships. Lifetime Friendships are the real gifts for the new dancers. The square dancer often communicates the values and the traditions of square dancing such as “Fun and Friendship”. A new square dance prospect might ask or think: “Why should I become a square dance?” or “What would I gain from square dancing?”

Often we answer such questions with “fun, friendship, and fellowship” of square dancing. We can cite the history of square dancing in what it means to people now and to people two-hundred years ago and one-hundred years ago often mentioning some of the prominent people who square danced. So important is that we attempt to draw attention to the many new permanent and long term Lifetime friendship opportunities of square dancing and cite the many wonderful lifetime Friends that we all have made. All social gatherings enjoyed by square dancers and their families are a significant part of the square dancing equation to offer non dancers.

If we look around at other organizations, all of these benefits are not unique to square dancing. Other social, civic and religious organizations provide many such opportunities for benefits that square dancers enjoy. Considering the decline in square dancing, we sometimes become disillusioned because we may not provide a convincing statement that would explain the one quality benefit most central to square dancing. values and benefits. “What is it that sets square dancing apart from other activities?”

The answer to this question is not evident unless one looks into a square of new student dancers. If we look at them in lessons, we see laughing, fun and a beaming sense of accomplishment. Still, these are not the only elements that set square dancing apart from other activities. Upon looking at the square of new dancers for several times, I finally found the answer to my question. Student dancers all share the potential Lifetime Friendships, which are the most vital element in square dancing and are required to ensure continuation and the prospering of square dancing.

When a person enters the hall for a square dance lesson, all the cares and woes that accompany life in the outside should disappear from his/her memory. Each square dance student dances with seven others in a square in full and complete harmony. It matters little their business, education, wealth, or profession. At this point, the person is a square dancer and all else disappears, as the dancers are united in the square following the patter by the caller.

It can be argued that the sum of the history and the many benefits of square dancing, powerful as they are, pale in importance to the Lifetime Friendships that each new student dancer experiences. Square dancers not developing new friendships with the new dancers may be part of the reasons why so many people drop out of square dance classes, stop dancing right after graduation, and are lost to our community.

This ACA Viewpoints addressed Lifetime Friendships which can be and should a priority for all Square Dancers. In conjunction with this, ACA recognizes that the long period of lessons equates to earning a Master’s of Business Administration from an accredited university. The ACA international one floor program can be taught in as little as 12 weeks, which reduces the stress on the dancers and callers alike and encourages dancing associations to reject the plus programs causing stress and segregation of dancers and return square dancing to a unified dancing program ACA further recognizes that the cumbersome mainstream/plus dance program are helping to decrease the number of square dancers as it destroys unity of dancing, which appears to be the central frustration bond of square dancers. The bottom line is that if we as callers, dancers and square leaders take away dancing equality, it will seriously continue to damage square dancing. All square dancers should be able to feel the equality of square dancing, and equality will help square dancing grow and prosper.

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 any dancer or club or caller has any information on how to retain new dancers in lessons, new dancers after graduation please contact us and ACA will publish it for you.

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Until next time, Happy Dancing, Merry Christmas and Think Friendship. 

Fun set to music!