How proper must square dance attire be?
Angelika Gaab, Afcent Tonwers, Brunssum, NL
Recently at the Yukon Tramps and Drivers’ special dance in Dinslaken:
The special dance took place in an impressive dancing tent, and as the weathergod was really gracious with the organizing club, the atmosphere at the tables and benches under the open sky was also excellent. The sun was shining from a cloudless sky and made many a dancer forget everything he had ever heard (or not heard) about square dance attire.
Casual dress code or not: When at the first Allemande Left I grasped my corner's forearm, who was wearing a short-sleeved shirt, the hairiness reminded me of wiry sheep's wool, and it made me shudder. Unfortunately that was not all. After some more arm turns and a few tips later the model 'short-sleeved, a bit less hairy but with a wet surface' appeared. What is the problem with the long-sleeved men's shirt? After all, the sleeves can simply be rolled up when leaving the dance floor and rolled down again when entering the floor.
Comfort for the gent and for the ladies in the square.
For the ladies the T-shirt – as an alternative to the traditional blouse - has long since become widely accepted. To be fair, a blouse is not everyone's cup of tea, but a shirt matching the skirt also makes a pleasant appearance.
However, when a lady, no matter how old, is wearing a spaghetti strap top whose plunging v-neckline ends shortly above the belly button (unfortunately there is then not enough room for a bra) – then the whole thing, to my mind, is not any more a question of proper or casual dress code. Yes, even the strap top has found its way onto the dance floor in recent years. Why for ladies to wear a T-shirt?
At one time the rules of the dress code were relaxed in order to make square dancing more easily accessible for young people. But more often than not it is the young ladies and girls who are proudly wearing their petticoats whereas the elderly ladies tend to take liberties with their attire.
When we took up our hobby twelve years ago now, our caller at that time – although comparatively young – taught us, in addition to the calls, also things such as proper clothing, skirt work* ("What's that?", many may wonder) and personal hygiene out of respect for our fellow dancers. And he did not consider himself above having a word with someone who felt he had to come to the club night directly from work, soaked in sweat (a fact that did not make the caller popular with everybody).
Since then I have the impression that together with the disappearance of the square dance attire the laissez-faire attitude is more and more entering the dance floor on club nights. Why put on a clean shirt, T-shirt or blouse when the things you wore yesterday still seem to be clean?
I, for one, will keep on dancing in traditional square dance attire both at club nights and of course at special dances.
And why? Not because I am old-fashioned but because dancing with a petticoat is much more spirited, just try the difference.
After all, you don’t go to a ball wearing a tracksuit either, do you?
And when practising other sports activities you will certainly be wearing the appropriate clothes, won't you?
So let's have the stylish western shirts, blouses and T-shirts – even if it is getting a bit warmer.
And wear them with pride – after all, they show that you identify yourselves with your hobby.
Translation: Helmut Reitz
Editor: *Skirtwork, please look in Bulletin Sept. 2010 page 63