If you still think of square dancing as something you learned in junior high (or what is now called middle school), think again. Not only do the calls of modern square dancing include numerous moves in various combinations, the music has also evolved from country fiddle to include genres you wouldn’t expect.
The modern square dance caller begins a set with a group of dancers by first putting on instrumental music for what is called “patter”, a time to practice calls taught in sequence for each level of experience. The caller modifies the patter to help dancers repeat moves as needed to sort out any confusion.
The same dancers then stay on the floor for a “singing call” which intersperses the calls with the refrain from a chosen song. The caller proceeds straight through the song without stopping for any more teaching or review. Usually the dancers help each other to keep up and sort things out, but it isn’t unheard of for a square to “break down”. The saving grace is that four times in every singing call the dancers can reorient themselves back in their home positions and move on from there. Laughter and shrugs generally ensue.
Lawrence Johnstone, caller for The Oakmont Squares, works from a playlist of over 800 songs. In the past few weeks he has used the instrumental track of The Phantom of the Opera for patter and entertained dancers with a singing call based on Cole Porter’s Let’s Do It. Needless to say, dancers often sing along.
A few more examples include classics Unforgettable and Fly Me to the Moon, rock standards A Crazy Little Thing Called Love and Do You Believe in Love, and Big Band hits In the Mood and Steppin’ Out. Then there are movie and show tunes like Oscar winning Moon River and Lerner and Lowe’s Almost Like Being in Love. Lawrence has been playing holiday songs in December and periodically comes up with topical tunes such as Quarantine Crazy and Election Year Rag.
Does that make you want to tap your feet and get out on the dance floor? The Oakmont Squares meet Tuesday evenings from 7:00-9:00 PM at the East Rec Center. Donation is $6 per person.
Come dance in a square and make a circle of friends. For information call Jenny at 707-367-2102.