Square Dance Apparel

by Jeff Garbutt

Does it matter what we wear ? Are we so focused on a dress standard that we are turning some (potential) people away ? Alternatively, if we have a "free for all" , would square dancing lose a unique character that adds to the overall experience ? As always - the truth lies somewhere in the middle - so we should seek to find this middle point.

Other people who have already brought this subject up are probably feeling like lone voices in a large crowd at the moment - but please don't shoot the messenger if you don't like the message. They genuinely care about the movement, and wish to see it grow. And are only trying to make us "consider the possibilities". People who care about the future of anything should always be critically looking at every aspect of their interest.

At the risk of being shot down in flames in the same firing line, I would like to add a bit of support. As already stated by others - our costumes aren't the only reason for the downturn in dancer numbers, but they certainly are a "contributing factor". And if we are really serious about revitalizing our activity - we have to look at all contributing factors. But firstly let's look logically at why dress standards are used in other circumstances - and ask ourselves where square dancing fits in:

I'm sure that many others can add additional items to the above list and others could discredit my comments. But when I look at it logically - I can only see two main considerations that must be enforced - shoes of a stated minimum surface contact area - and long sleeve shirts for men. Everything else is open to fashion, neatness and personal considerations. Naturally we don't want total chaos - but a broadening of what is acceptable. Contrary to popular wisdom, which states that square dancing is not for everyone, I believe that square dancing can be for everyone. It is inherently easy to learn, interactive, fun, promotes friendship and fitness and all those other things that is good for the human physique. In fact it is so good that I don't see why anyone should miss out - so let's not put any impediments in their way.

And finally I put to you one question - would you prefer to see a strict dress code worn by a small number of dancers - or a slightly relaxed standard worn by many more?

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