Pride and Prejudice

Demos - as in parades, picnics, shopping malls, fairs, etc

By Pat Tardiff

About the same time I had begun to unlock my repressed emotions, I discovered square dancing, Dancing for me afforded me the opportunity to romp with joy and abandon. Once I overcame my embarrassment of the 'costume' worn for square dancing and began enjoying the joy of dancing with crinolines flaring and skirts flying, demos were attractive to me. I was shocked and offended the first time someone called me a 'ham'. But once I overcame my upset, I realized they were right. I was having a wonderful time and I didn't care who knew it. If that makes me a ham, so be it!

What do we, as the square dance community, present to the general public when we do a square dance demo? I have participated in numerous square dance demos of every sort; parades, picnics, fairs and shopping malls. One in particular stands out as a positive experience. This demo was well orchestrated. It was comprised of a cross section of dancers from all ages - with one common denominator - enthusiasm. Let's not exclude the fact that the callers involved were lively and fun. They talked about their square dance club and dancers with pride. There was a colorful banner prominently displayed and equally festive flyers available to be handed out to the many onlookers. I remember teenagers who are usually seen at a demo snickering and rolling their eyes actually smiling and tapping their feet.

In contrast, I have participated in a demo where the caller showed up in a plaid shirt, jeans and a straw hat. The only thing missing was a fiddle. Little was said about who we were and why we were there. The group that showed up to dance were sour and no one smiled. The equipment being used malfunctioned which added to the overall picture of ineptitude. I was just as glad there wasn't a banner or flyers to tell them who we were.

Too many times I have participated in demos where there was no banner, no flyers and the caller delivered the information of who we were with the enthusiasm of a weather report. At the same time, dancers showed up in some ridiculous outfits. Save your funky outfits for fun night at your home club. We know it's fun to express your individuality, but to the general public it's just another reason to shake their heads and snicker. How do we expect to overcome the general public's prejudice towards square dancing if we don't consider their reaction when dressing to do a demo. Think: Would you like to be seen in a publicity poster wearing your choice for the demo? The most important thing to remember is to SMILE. If you aren't having fun, why would anyone else want to do it. Demos are fun, but consider why we do them. It's all about promoting square dancing; remember that the next time someone asks you to participate in a demo.

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.