This is a timely contribution by Tom Gray. With the Fall
classes well along now, this will be of interest to many. Tom Gray is a caller
from Alberta Canada.
RULES OF SQUARE DANCINGcompiled by Tom Gray
Agreements that help prevent confusion.
At least, they do if everyone follows them.
CIRCLE RULE: If Circle is called without a direction ("Heads lead
right and circle to a line" or "Face your corner, circle up two" or "Join
hands and circle"), the circle is always to the LEFT.
PASSING RULE: whenever two dancers are walking towards each other
and are about to collide, they shift slightly left, pass RIGHT shoulders, and
continue. Sometimes called the Right Shoulder Rule
SAME POSITION RULE: Whenever two dancers are walking towards each
other and are required to stop in the same position, they join right hands in
a mini-wave, sharing the position.
ACTIVE DANCER(S) RULE: Sometimes called Working Dancer(s). If
couples or positions are designated active, they remain active for the
following calls until another couple or position is named. Dancers not
designated are 'not working' or are 'inactive' Thus, 'Heads pass thru, u-turn
back, square thru two' all refer to heads; the sides are inactive during this
sequence.. Another example: '#1 man lead right, circle up three, go once
around, u-turn back, circle up three' The 'u-turn back' call refers only to
the active dancer, the #1 gent.
FACING COUPLES RULE: Some calls done from facing couples require
the dancers to first step into a momentary right ocean wave (unless it is a
left-hand call, eg. "Left swing thru", in which case the dancers step into a
momentary left ocean wave) before completing the call. Examples of such calls
are Swing Thru; Fan the top; Spin the top; Spin Chain Thru. For beginners and
new dancers, the caller may cue the parts, for example, "Heads lead right,
step to a wave, swing thru" or "Pass thru, make a wave, fan the top"; but for
Mainstream or more experienced beginner dancers the call will be, "Heads lead
right, swing thru" or "Pass thru, fan the top".
OCEAN WAVE RULE: Some calls normally done from facing couples (R
& L Grand, R & L Thru, Box the Gnat, Square Thru, Slide Thru, Pass to
the Center, etc.) can be called from waves; or calls normally done from facing
dancers (eg. Turn Thru) can be done from miniwaves. Some callers will preface
one of these calls with a cue to warn the dancers of the unusual position.
("Rear back, Right and Left Grand" or "Single Hinge, Listen, now! Box the
ARM TURN RULE: if an arm turn (or any other move involving an arm
turn, such as Shoot the Star) is called with no qualification, it is turned
half-way around. Thus, "Turn your partner right" is a half turn to face in the
opposite direction to where you started; but "Turn your partner right, three
quarters" is a turn almost back to the starting position (tip: count walls!)
CIRCULATE RULE: Directed (active) dancers move forward along the
circulate path to the next position. This may involve "flipping" or reversing
your direction in order to follow the path and continue moving forward. Some
teachers use a hula hoop or chalkline to emphasize this.
PALMS RULE: Normally, the man holds palms up, ladies palms down.
This applies to circle, promenade, etc. However, in a same-sex couple, the
right-hand dancer (belle) holds palms down, the left-hand dancer (beau) holds
palms up. In a BBGG ring, the person with a man on the left and a lady on the
right will find that RULD (Rule #11) works.
STAR RULE: Both men and wome are to use a palm star when moving
forward. Men are to use a packsaddle or box star when moving backwards, but
women use the palm star forward and backwards. There is no reason for this but
tradition, and there is a growing trend for men to use the packsaddle in any
star. One gent said, "Give me ONE way to do it and do it that way ALL the
time!" K.I.S.S. 11. RULD RULE - This is not official or accepted by any square
dance or caller organization. Many dancers are pushing for a "Right Up Left
Down" handhold. That is, all dancers hold right hand palm up, left hand palm
down, regardless of sex or position. This "KISS" handhold would simplify
everything from "circle left" to all-position and "arky" dancing.
RIGHT IN FRONT RULE: When two couples are moving into the same
space, the couple on the right goes in front. Although it is usually taught as
a part of specific calls, this is a general rule. In Wheel and Deal from
facing-out lines, the right-hand couple goes first and is in the center of the
resulting DPT formation. Wheel and Deal from facing in-lines results in a CDPT
formation, with the right-hand couple outside. When Lead Right is called from
facing-in lines, the result is a Trade By formation with the right-hand couple
in front facing out and the left hand couples inside facing each other.
FIRST FOOT RULE: In ballroom dancing, the man always starts a move
(or "break") with the LEFT foot and the woman always starts with the RIGHT
foot. This is the case in Rounds too. You don't really have to worry about
footwork in Square Dancing (thank God!) because it's basically just walking.
However, I have found that this rule works just fine from the man's point of
view. I can't tell you about the ladies' steps!
The Shepherd's Guide for Central Alberta
Local agent for Monument
1-800-829-6906 (Alberta, Canada)
This article may be reprinted with no further permission from the
authors and/or publications. Permission has been granted in advance for the reprinting
with the stipulation that credit be given to the contributing author/publisher.
Square Dance Article Co-Op Index