To keep square dancing pleasurable, we must all observe a few guidelines.
After all, square dancing is a group activity.
- Never leave a square early. Your ability, or that of your fellow dancers, is no excuse. We all start at the same level and the only way to get better is to dance. If you become ill or an emergency arises advise the other members of the square and if possible try to find a replacement.
- Don't dance over your own level of dance, unless invited. If you attempt to dance over you head without being invited you will only embarrass yourself and may upset the remainder of the square. If you haven't completed mainstream lessons don't expect to dance with those who have unless you are explicitly invited. If you are a mainstream dancer and a plus level tip is announced, sit out.
- Male dancers please wear long sleeves. No one will deny they are warm; however, most will admit they don't enjoy grabbing a sweaty arm. Ladies should avoid wearing excessive jewelry. It hurts.
- Don't come to a dance, workshop or class if you have been drinking or under the influence of drugs, be they legal or not. Square and Round dancing requires your best mental and physical alertness. Your coordination must be at its very best. Should you be suspected of being "under the influence" you will probably be asked to leave.
- Personal cleanliness is important in square and round dancing. If possible always shower or bathe shortly before attending the dance. Please try to use unscented products, soaps and shampoos, and don't forget to use something to sweeten your breath (mouth wash, chewing gum, etc.) Avoid eating garlic or other offenders before attending a dance.
- In addition to applauding the caller and thanking your fellow dancers at the end of each tip you should personally speak to and thank the caller and or cuer before leaving the dance. If you are a visitor you should also make a point of speaking with a club officer.
- Once a tip is underway, refrain from talking. It is frequently difficult to hear and your talking may very well prevent someone else from hearing a call. It is also extremely rude to talk while announcements are being made. Try to quiet anyone speaking to you. Give the speaker the same consideration you would want if you were speaking.
- When the music starts, get on the floor. Don't make other dancers wait or the caller "beg" you to fill the square. Join the square nearest to you that needs a couple. It is considered "bad manners" to pass a square needing dancers in order to fill another. If you are looking for a square, raise your hand as you move across the floor. If your square is not full, raise your hand with as many fingers extended, as couples are needed. If two or three couples are squared up and do not have a hand up, it indicates that they are waiting for someone who has promised to dance with them. Do not try to square up with them without asking. Do not arrange squares more than once in an evening. It is best not arrange a square at all. Do not get on the floor and expect the caller to find you a partner.
- Be on time and don't leave early. In square dancing, one late couple or person may mean that three other couples or seven people must sit out. By leaving early, you are telling the other dancers and caller that you did not have a good time at the dance. The "wind-down" tip is just as important as the first or middle tips. Plan to spend the complete evening when you come.
- Always introduce yourself and your partner to others in the square if you don't know them. Thank them for dancing with you after the tip.
- For some, square dancing can be a strenuous exercise. If you feel you are unable to dance, sit out. It is usually best to remove yourself from the dance area and return after the tip has started. Sometimes you can learn a great deal just by watching and listening. Be considerate. If another dancer is watching and listening, don't insist upon talking. Square dancing is a social event but not a place to socialize during tips or rounds even if you are not dancing.
At the end of the dance the hall usually must be swept and chairs have to be put away. Sometimes a kitchen must be cleaned up, and several other small chores must be accomplished. Responsible club members don't just walk out after the dance; they stay until all the work is done. Also, make it your personal responsibility to welcome, visit with, and say good-by to every visitor.
"Yellow Rock" (hug your corner) or "Red Rock" (hug your partner) are common signals to square dancers. "Hugging is a miracle medicine that can relieve many physical and emotional problems". Some women do not like strangers hugging them, so be a little careful until you get to know them. Most men like the tradition. In any case, "Have you hugged somebody today?"
Invite non-square dancers out to visit with you. Try to get them interested in lessons. Non-dancers may be afraid to start lessons. You should bring them to class until they are comfortable coming by themselves. Make friends and share the fun with those friends.
DON'T FORGET "A SMILE ON YOUR FACE" HELPS YOUR FEET WORK BETTER.
HOW TO BE A GOOD ANGEL
ON THE HEAD OF A PIN
IS YOUR HALO ON STRAIGHT?
It is important that as many of our club members as possible come to the class as "angels." Angels are the wonderful people who volunteer their time to ensure that a class has the best possible learning experience.
Angles provide the new class members with their first real look at the club. How angels behave and treat the new dancers, other angels, and visitors will affect class members' decisions whether or not to join our club.
Angels are also role models. No matter what the instructor and club try to communicate to the students concerning etiquette, attitudes, or styling, class members inevitably take their cues from what they see the angels doing. So it is important that angels be extra careful to provide good role models.
Smile, be enthusiastic, and enjoy the dancing. Be friendly, courteous, and gentle. This is sometimes easier to say than to do, especially if it has been a long day. And, let's be honest, some of us have personal agendas, perhaps disagreements with club policies or less-than-cordial relations with specific club members that are out of place here and must be put aside.
Although most of us do the right things instinctively the majority of the time it can't hurt to reiterate certain points. The following advice for angels has been extracted from several sources, including articles in square dance publications and handouts prepared for other clubs.
ANGELS ARE NOT TEACHERS (THE CALLER IS).
This is perhaps the most common misconception that causes problems. The primary teaching function of an angel is to teach by example. To be in the right place at the right time. One important thing you can do is to establish handholds after every move. This not only helps the students maintain their orientation in the square, it is a very good habit to develop.
It is always tempting to explain something your square is not getting and the students will often ask you to do this -- BUT YOU MUST RESIST. It diverts the student's attention from the Caller and one of the most important things to learn in beginner class is to listen to the Caller. Sometimes you can clarify a simple point for students between tips; this is fine, but not while the Caller is at the microphone.
Another difficult point is just HOW MUCH HELP you should give in getting dancers into the right place. Dancers, after all, must learn to do the moves on their own. To gently guide someone through a maneuver if they have a momentary lapse of memory might be okay and sometimes one can help by indicating nonverbally where a person should go. But we accomplish little by pushing or pulling a dancer through an action when he or she doesn't know what was supposed to have been done.
It is better to let a square break down rather than to use too much force getting people into the right place. Broken down squares are an indication to the instructor that the dancers are having problems. Do be sure the Caller is aware of problems, raise your hand if necessary and ask the Caller to explain something if your square is having trouble.
Be careful, however, not to embarrass any dancer by the way you ask for help. It is much better to say that "the square is not getting" a certain move rather than saying "Joe isn't getting" a certain move.
Do encourage students. Let them know that all new dancers make mistakes and that things get better with practice. Also, angels do make mistakes too. It is good to admit to them cheerfully as it makes the students less tense about their own mistakes.
Club styling is always a third major source of contention. It is important the new dancers learn the calls with standard Caller Lab styling, that is, without the flourishes we like so much to add to moves. The Caller will introduce our Club styling at appropriate times after the calls are mastered. Angels must use only the styling which has been taught to the class.
This is not always easy. How many of us even remember how to do a DoSaDo without a Highland Fling? But it really is very important. Students are going to want you to teach them "how it's done" before they have mastered the call but you should resist the temptation.
SOME RANDOM ADDITIONAL ADVICE
Square Up, With Everyone -- not just a few friends. Seek out the weaker students and ask them to dance with you. Make sure that students are not sitting out because angels are dancing.
End Conversations Promptly -- when the teacher begins a tip. If you are not dancing, keep your conversations far away from the dance area.
Lend A Hand -- cheerfully if you are asked to help set up or clean up, help with refreshments or take attendance.
Keep An Eye Out -- for security problems, accidents, and dangerous situations like spills or debris on the floor.
Let The Instructor -- know if there are problems with the sound.
Don't Complain -- about the hall, the floor, the caller or anyone attending the class.
Don't Criticize -- students or other angels.
Remember -- your name badge.