A National Dance for a National Holiday?

Does the United States have a National Dance? Not anymore, but square dance was designated as the national folkdance for a brief window of time in 1982-83. Decades of effort by western-style square dance organizations culminated in the declaration of public law97-188, quoted below. But the legislation was not without controversy. Historians, folklorists and other dance organizations questioned whether one specific dance style could be considered representative of a nation of people from so many diverse backgrounds. There is even diversity in styles of square dancing.

Senate Joint Resolution No. 59, signed on June 1, 1982, by President Ronald Regan proclaimed the following virtues of square dancing, all controversy notwithstanding:
Whereas square dancing has been a popular tradition in America since early colonial days;
Whereas square dancing has attained a revered status as part of the folklore of this country;
Whereas square dancing is a joyful expression of the vibrant spirit of the people of the United States;
Whereas the American people value the display of etiquette among men and women which is a major element of square dancing;
Whereas square dancing is a traditional form of family recreation which symbolizes a basic strength of this country, namely, the unity of the family;
Whereas square dancing epitomizes democracy because it dissolves arbitrary social distinctions; and
Whereas it is fitting that the square dance be added to the array of symbols of our national character and pride:

Now, therefore, be it Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

That the square dance is dance, designated the national folk dance of the United States of America for 1982 and 1983.

The Oakmont Square Dancing Club dances the Social Square Dancing (SSD) level of dancing as defined by Callerlab, the international association of modern western square dance callers and the largest square dance association in the United States. The new SSD format just goes to show that culture is not static, even within any single organization.

The Oakmont Squares meet Tuesday evenings with caller Lawrence Johnstone, 7:00-9:00 PM at the East Rec Center. Proof of Covid vaccination/booster required. Experienced dancers from the SSD level or beyond are welcome to come visit or join the Oakmont Squares at any time. Donation is $6 per person. For information call Jenny at 707-367-2102.

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