HOOT N’ HOLLER

HOOT N’ HOLLER

CASD023A surprise awaits you at the end of the blog.

Square dancing . . . do you know how to square dance? The name comes from what my son says is four couples arranged in a square.

I learned how to do this kind of dancing when in high school. It has become familiar to me again because my son, CPA, public accountant, Paul Ingis, for his beloved hobby, is a square dance caller. His son Stephen, now twenty-one, began with his father when he was only eleven, and now

Groups

Groups

Stephen is a caller, much in demand. He has earned a tidy sum for college. Stephen and I discussed all this recently. I got curious as to the origin of square dancing and to ballroom dancing as we know it today where partners hold each other in dance. What’s the history? Here’s what I discovered . . .

waltz

waltz

The waltz, with its modern hold, began in England circa 1812. The dance was met with opposition because . . . you guessed it . . . the impropriety associated with the closed hold. But guess what, all dancing has a closed hold of some sorts. Even in square dancing, when partners swing each other. The swing is a traditional square dance move (call).

Now, wait a minute, while reviewing the history of dance, I realized that I cannot stretch this into ballroom dancing history. It would take a couple of blogs. So, I will stick to square dancing and maybe follow up with the ballroom dance another time.

Square dance group

Square dance group

Paul said that the square dancing that he knows is modern or western square dancing. It began in New England with the first settlers, who brought their own folk dancing with them from their homeland. The variety led to men interested in boiling down the steps, who would develop dances and routines of their own, including dances for groups, specifically for four couples. So there we have it, square dancing and its director (or caller) developed.

This type of new dancing served as recreation and social contact with neighbors. The only requirements were a wooden floor, music and a caller, and anyone who could make the calls to keep it organized. It could take place in a barn, somebody’s living room, the town hall, and later, the grange hall. There was always someone on hand who could play the guitar, fiddle or an accordion.

4154551However, as the population became more urban it also became more cosmopolitan. Booming trade brought to our shores new fashions, new music, and new dances from other continents. The new dances became fashionable, and square dancing was displaced in our mushrooming cities. It survived only in isolated areas in the individual style peculiar to that region. In time, differences among these regional dances became so pronounced that a square dancer from one area often would not be able to dance in another. Square dancing seemed slated for oblivion.

But—it was revived by Henry Ford in the early 1930s as part of his early New England Restoration project. Others got interested and modernized it with more modern music, rather than the hillbilly band with its whiny fiddle. As square dancing moved into urban centers, articulate and professional callers were the norm. Nametags, worn by all dancers, put everyone on a first-name basis creating instant informality and fellowship. Square dancing had regained its old appeal in a modern setting and it spread over the nation. Today, this wholesome recreation is enjoyed by millions of Americans and others around the world. Wherever Americans have gone, England, Germany, Australia, Japan, etc., they have introduced square dancing with enthusiastic participation and applause.

modern-square-danceModern western-style square dancing is vibrant and growing. New ideas and dynamic choreography are introduced each year, insuring that square dancing will continue to be exciting. The music is fabulous. Always upbeat, new, tap your foot music. It’s for everyone, all ages, even the handicapped. Imagine? It’s fun to learn and move on to advanced groups. In the beginning, you learn a number of basic moves (calls) in various combinations. Knowledge and practice of the basic movements are learned in a series of weekly sessions. There are ‘barn dances’ for the newbies, mainstream and higher levels when you are ready. The challenges are creative and fulfilling when it all goes smooth.

Paul and family attend square dances all over the country whenever possible. They enjoy people, dancing, and camaraderie. He keeps up with the square dance community, to stay in tune. Paul uses his own music when he teaches and calls. He uses a wide variety of music beyond the expected country style, including rock and roll, show tunes, easy listening, jazz, and even classical, and his dancers love it!

The average dancer remains in the “Mainstream” and “Plus” levels of square dancing for four to five years. In order to extend this period of activity, “Advanced” and “Challenge” levels of square dancing have been developed. These additional levels of square dancing have maintained the interest of many dancers and have extended their dancing years.

 

HappySDSwing002-620x345Information from http://www.dosado.com and the archives of the Mid-Atlantic Challenge Association (MACA).

Remember that my latest book, The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin is up for preorder on Amazon and other retailers. 

Here’s Pre-Order link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07VRVK3KJ

Excerpt:

He returned the timepiece to the vest pocket of his tailored, gray-striped day coat and fiddled with the knot of his ascot making sure it was straight. The driver pulled the carriage up to the Sentinel building, the horses stomping on the stones and whinnying their arrival.

Miss Baldwin waved to him from the top of the stairs, tossing her red locks over her shoulder. Her lips lifted at the corners, his breath caught. The air around her seemed to glow.

Peter opened the carriage door and stepped down, “Good morning, Miss Baldwin,” he said climbing the stairs. His gaze traveled from the hem of her skirt to the short-buttoned jacket accentuating her tiny waist, her hat’s green feather and back to the diamond dog brooch on her lapel. She had a morning paper in hand and a smile on her face.

“What’s this, Miss Baldwin?”

“Latest news, my article made the early edition.”

The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin: The Gilded Age Heiresses

BALLROOM COMPETITION DONE!

BALLROOM COMPETITION DONE!

Done Deal, this competition. I did it! The dancing competition at Foxwoods this past weekend was fantastic. Up at 5:30 a.m. for makeup, then hair up, then dress up. I glanced in the mirror, who is that?

Queen of the Ball (but really, that's me)

Queen of the Ball (but really, that’s me)

But you see, this is my exercise workshop. I never could stick to a gym. Tennis was always my sport, but now that I’m bionic, dancing works better. It can be strenuous, but it’s not dangerous. Dancing is great for the heart. You can raise your heartbeat in five minutes of dancing, as if you were running. After fifteen months, I’m in better shape than ever. Like Mom never said, “Stand up straight.” Didn’t your Mom say that? Now my dance teacher tells me the same thing.

Gail & Henry, the teacher

Gail & Henry, the teacher

Henry doesn’t have a stick, but he has Monika who comes along and pulls my head off my neck, then pulls my arms out of my sockets, pushes in my tummy and then says—with emphasis—Stand. Up. Straight. Like I never heard that before. It’s then that Henry takes my head and places it into this odd position so I can’t see his face anymore, and says, “There, that’s good.” Then I say, “Where are you, Henry? I can’t see you anymore.” Monika then puts on the music and Henry whirls me around the room and tell me to look up, but don’t let the white of my eyes show. OK, enough. But honestly, maintaining good posture, stretching your body, standing all-pulled-up is good for your health. You see, you are not just moving your body; you are controlling your muscle movement. Guess what? You eventually get endowed with muscle memory. Yup, it’s true, you remember to stand up straight . . .

After the ball, the banquet. You get to wear a new get-up.

After the ball, the banquet. You get to wear a new get-up.

I have come to realize that this sport permits me to enjoy a range of mobility, balance and flexibility that had begun to diminish. The patterns and methods challenge your mind, sort of like rubbing your head and patting your stomach simultaneously. I intend to continue dancing, if for nothing else, the challenge. I don’t need a competition to be inspired to achieve excellence. No matter how long it takes, excellence is my goal. I love to dance, so dance I will. One dance pattern after another, perfectly matched to music as I seek perfection. .

Hubby Tom, my date & me

Hubby Tom, my date & me

If you know anything about dancing, you know that the cha-cha, the hustle and swing (lindy) can be strenuous, but did you know that a properly-done waltz or a properly-done fox trot can also be physically exhausting. There’s more control involved. Just practice this, stretch your body straight up, keep your shoulders down, hold in that tummy and . . . well, just that for a few minutes. Imagine moving around the room at the same time. Dancing attracts folks who want more than exercise. Who has ever considered dancing as exercise? Have you? Dance enriches and inspires all of us by immersing us into the beauty of movement and music. Tell me, do you want to dance?

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