European Association
of American Square Dancing Clubs e.V.

Friendship is Square Dancing's greatest reward


EAASDC-Bulletin September 2011

Square Dance Rules

Set Squares

Norbert Lindermayr, Dip-N-Divers München

As an attentive spectator or as a dancer in a club, at a special dance, or at a Jamboree, you will notice time and again that certain Square Dancers form the so-called Set Squares. This phenomenon appears more or less frequently in certain areas and cities, however, it is not limited to specific events, even though I observed it most frequently at Plus and Advanced weekends.

“Set Square" means that eight dancers agree upon dancing together already before the tip starts. Squares which are not dissolved after one tip, but stay together for several tips or even the whole evening are also called Set Squares.

It is quite okay to form a Set Square once or to stay together in a square for a further tip if it has come off well, but this should be the exception to the rule. It is a great pity when certain dancers form Set Squares over and over again or stay together for three, four, five or even more tips, and moreover it violates the general Square Dance rules. For in a Set Square certain dancers differentiate themselves from the others and do not offer them any chance at all to dance with them.

After all, the best about Square Dancing in general and about Special Dances or Jamborees in particular is dancing with people from other clubs (possibly even from foreign countries), meeting old friends, and getting to know other people. It is great to meet people and to make new friends. Not for nothing the song of the Friendship Ring says "... remember that a stranger is just a friend to be .... “ Strangers become friends! Friendship is one of the fundamental pillars of Square Dance.

If I always dance with the members of my own club (or with the same people time and again) at a Special Dance or a Jamboree, all this is impossible for me. Over the whole year I have more than enough time to dance with the members of my own club.

Set Squares usually catch people's eyes. Remarks like "The members of this or that club are always dancing together" or "It seems to be beneath them to dance with others" not only put the dancers in question in an unfavourable light, but also their whole club.

A further aspect: it is rather unfair towards the weaker dancers, when the better ones form Set Squares and dance together all the time. They have nearly no chance to improve their abilities. A sound mixture of weaker and better dancers, however, makes all of them have fun. Another important pillar of Square Dance is having fun and taking pleasure in dancing and not ambition.

Set Squares can also be a sign of selfishness and intolerance: "Our square is going well. And that's all that matters. Who cares what the others are doing?" or ''The main thing is that I can dance with the people I like."

In so many fields of human life tolerance is neglected. Perhaps we should try to be a little bit more tolerant in our spare time. Our fellows will surely be grateful for it. Reflecting this subject almost inevitably leads to the attitude that it is much better to do without Set Squares.

In case of mixed programmes (Squares and Rounds), the opportunities to form Set Squares are considerably limited. The breaks of 5 - 10 minutes between the single tips in a Square Dance Workshop or in a pure Square Dance programme could be used sensibly - either for Round Dance or for relaxation.

Transl.: Carla Staude

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