The More You Dance the Better You Feel

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This is actually a phrase that shows up in the "patter" of a square dance caller. Turns out, it's totally spot on.

In the first weekend of November an event known as Dare To Be Square West took place down in Oakland, California. It's an annual gathering of square dancers, callers, and musicians for a couple days of intense dancing, playing, and learning. This particular style of square dancing emphasizes "Southern Squares," a social dancing form popularized in the Southern United States, but influenced by dance traditions from the English, Scottish, Irish, French, African, Spanish...pretty much a melting pot of dance traditions.

Social dancing used to be a common feature of many communities, and it's no wonder why. It's a fantastic way to meet people, to get a good dose of face to face interactions, coupled with lots of reasonable physical contact, all backed by handmade music. This is a potent cocktail of things that make people feel great, and which knit communities of people together.

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Part of the Dare To Be Square experience is the opportunity to learn more about dance and music traditions. Phil Jameson relayed a fascinating history of social dance in the United States, the result of years of personal research (and the subject of an upcoming book). These traditions made up the fabric of cohesive, functional communities.

Social dance isn't a common fixure in most communities these days. Dance is relegated to the bump and grind club scene, occasional DJ'd wedding receptions, and stage performances. There are social dances springing up across the country, however -- maybe right in your city. In Seattle, check out the Seattle Subversive Square Dance Society for upcoming community dances. Or watch this space for more blog entries about community music and dance -- definitely on the list of real things.

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