European Association
of American Square Dancing Clubs e.V.

Friendship is Square Dancing's greatest reward


EAASDC-Bulletin March 2011


Laugh till you drop?

A comment on Thomas Barth's letter to the editor "What is joy in square dancing?"

Helmut Reitz, Lake-City-Dancers Haltern am See

First the good news: The writer tells us frankly what he likes in square dancing and what he doesn't. So you know what to make of him.

Unfortunately that is the only good news.

For those of you who cannot remember the exact contents of his letter, here are the most important – and most questionable – statements (English translation as a rule from the original).

Thomas Barth says about himself: He …

  • fools around (when dancing).
  • is loud.
  • shows his joy by laughing out loud and by moving about excessively [original: energetically].
  • feels that laughing out loud is not only accepted but requested
  • as only then you have fun.
  • feels his mission is to entertain the other dancers – until they laugh.
  • threatens he will get them all.
  • is not interested in the caller's singing
  • cannot understand that dancers might want to listen to the caller's singing – those dancers ought to listen to a CD at home.

These statements speak for themselves. What a mission! The "unbelievers" are to be converted, whether or not they feel like it, to have fun in the manner of Thomas.

And that's exactly where it's not a fun thing anymore. Bad enough that having fun is equated with laughing out loud, that a loud "Yeehaa" during a Scoot Back might drown the next call such as Star Thru, that a dancer has to fool around to have fun – the basic problem goes far beyond it.

  1. Thomas wants to tell other dancers how to have fun and how to show it – even if he has to force them. He is not willing (not able?) to comprehend that dancing can definitely be enjoyed without laughing constantly. The feeling of contentedness, after the complete square have mastered a tricky choreography, fills the dancers with joy. Why laugh out loud? Unfortunately Thomas keeps using 'smile' as a synonym for 'laugh'. And why not be concentrated – not: serious! – if something might turn out to be difficult?

  2. Thomas ignores completely that the name of the game is Square DANCING – it is all about dancing, not about fooling around, not about laughing out loud. Dancing to the beat of nice music, to the singing of the caller, who carefully chose his singing calls hoping the dancers would like the music and his singing. It is incredible that Thomas would really like to send those dancers home. His "Of course you should not abandon thoughtfulness" mentioned shortly before obviously just serves as an alibi.

  3. Thomas justifies his attitude with two items which he unfortunately misinterprets.
  • The first one is the 4th candle at the graduation ceremony. Although his quotations are on the whole correct ("…attitude … to enjoy the evening and add to the enjoyment of others…") he clings to the term "fun", describes his perception of "fun", quotes Wikipedia and finally finishes by telling us how dancers are to behave – that is definitely not the meaning of "a high level of dancing enjoyment should be your goal."

  • Secondly: The name of his club has to serve as justification – Jester Dancers. Now here a click at Wikipedia.com would have been helpful: " A jester … was a person employed to tell jokes and provide general entertainment, typically by a European monarch." We are not at court, however, and we do not need a fool who tells jokes and provides general entertainment.

Thomas, let us just dance – and try to understand hat we would like to enjoy dancing, music and singing without being loud; that we can experience and show joy without laughing out loud, and that by no means we want to be entertained by a fool until we laugh.

As mentioned before: The name of the game is SQUARE DANCING.

Editor: I think Helmut is dealing a bit severely with the posting of Thomas; however we have to accept the freedom of opinion for all parties involved. The subject here is the text printed in Bulletin February page 69. The graphic displayed purposely next to the headline has the filename “laughing leprechaun” and at the end of the article you will find a block of quite different emoticons. The Editor inserted both graphics because he had similar feelings as Helmut about the article. You cannot know its real intention, whether it’s just a joke or satire or a bit strange. However some aspects are also telling the truth. By all means one cannot deny that Thomas is holding near an dear the idea of Square Dancing and that he just wants to develop this idea. Whether he is always right with his suggestions and ideas is a different matter, which, however, is being discussed right now. I myself tend to be the emotional type with eyebrows perked up and open mouth. And I definitively do not know if Thomas has a waggish sense of humour or if he takes the fun deadly serious.

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