Square Dance FAQ

Answers to some of the most commonly asked questions:

What does SWOSDA stand for?
It stands for Southwestern Ontario Square Dance Association.
Why should I start square dancing?
First of all, the dancing aspect is great fun, no matter what your skill level. Unlike most athletic activities, there’s no pressure to win. There’s no points and you’re not judged. Meanwhile, studies have shown that square dancing allows you to become healthier while having fun. There’s also a great social aspect to square dancing, as you will meet new people.

What is Modern Square Dancing?
Eight people interact through a series of movements as “called” by the caller. Unlike square dancing of old where dancers followed a set pattern, there is more variety in modern square dancing. There are still elements of older square dancing (as 8 people, paired up, form a square).
Do I have to memorize a long list of dance sequences?
No. Instead, dancers need only to learn the individual movements. The caller then randomly calls out the movements and they are put together to form the overall dance choreography. While the dancers cannot anticipate what call will come next, many participants believe this makes square dancing more fun and exciting.
Is it difficult to learn how to square dance?
Not at all. It’s more like walking in rhythm and forming patterns with the other dancers. Throw in some swinging and twirling, and some optional flourishes, and you will have a ball. Basically, if you can walk, you can square dance.
Is Square Dancing only for Seniors?
No. Whole many seniors are involved in dancing, it is because they began many years ago and are still enjoying it today as a fun and healthy activity. There are clubs for young adults and even teenagers.
Do I need to buy the fancy country and western clothes that is often associated with square dancing?
No. While many people who square dance often will buy that style of clothes, all you really need are clothes and (especially) shoes that are comfortable.
I don’t really like country music. Is that all I’ll hear?
No. Square dancing can be performed to any type of music which has a good beat. Songs from artists as diverse as Elvis Presley, George Strait, the Eagles, the Beatles and Beethoven can be used. Many clubs use “Jingle Bells” for Christmas-time square dancing.
What if I mess up?
Don’t worry. Even the most experienced dancers make mistakes sometimes. Everyone just laughs it off and continues on. Remember: there’s no points or judging. We’re just here to have a good time.
How can I learn more about the History of Square and Round Dancing and SWOSDA

As part of a 45th Anniversary project, the history of SWOSDA, from 1959-2009, was published in eight separate parts in the Bugle, SWOSDA’s official newsletter. You can read our history below.

Part 1 – The Beginning of Square Dancing in North America

Part 2 – Time to Organize

Part 3 – The First Full Year of Operation

Part 4 -Milestones and Memories 

Part 5 – More Milestones and Memories

Part 6 – Trillium Award Recipients

Part 7 – SWOSDA: Trillium Award Recipients 1996-2003

Part 8 – SWOSDA – Celebrating 45 Years 1959 – 2004

Five years later, the history was updated and can be read in one complete PDF here. We owe a debt of gratitude to Geoff and Rosemarie Edwards for their work on these histories. Our history continues to be written and we certainly accept articles, stories and photos of special events, for future generations to enjoy. Please send articles and photos to our current historians, Dorothy Dahm at the following address:

38 Kamps Cresc,
Tillsonburg, ON  N4G 4Z3
(519) 842-9212

How can I recognize someone who is making significant contributions to our club?

The Executive is pleased to announce the SWOSDA Recognition Merit Award, a new award dedicated to recognizing any deserving SWOSDA club member(s) who significantly contribute to their dance Club. The nominees’ contributions shall be reflective of a continuing dedication to the normal activities of the Club.

The participation in the Club shall be a minimum of 15 years and one or more periods of time may be added to meet the requirement for the Recognition Merit Award.

The Award is limited to one couple or one individual per club per year and is presented at the April Annual General Meeting of Square and Round Dancers of South Western Ontario.

The deadline for submitting an application to SWOSDA is March 15.

You can read the complete criteria package here and then download and fill out the nomination form here.

Are there any other awards for SWOSDA members?

We also have the Trillium Merit and Long Service Awards. You can read the guidelines and application form here.

Our club is looking to recruit new members. Do you have any tips or hints?

Absolutely. SWOSDA has compiled a guide that will teach you how to approach recruiting new members and strategies to employ for successful recruitment. You can learn more here.

There is also a recruitment bursary. Information can be downloaded in PDF form and the application can be found here.

Someone said a good idea to help recruit new members is to pass out business cards. Is that true?
Indeed. One suggestion was for dancers to carry business cards so that they could provide a handy information source to pass along to other prospective dancers.  These cards can be printed on paper, or on card stock available at most business supply stores.  The cards can also be printed on both sides to provide additional information – dances night, dates, specials, Fun Nights, etc
Okay, we’ve got the word out, but how do we keep people coming out and joining our club?

There’s lots of ways, some might be simple but many you might not think of. Check out the complete list here to learn how to keep potential members coming back for more.

I’d love to become a caller. Anything you can do to help?
You can take courses to become a square dance caller. You can apply for a bursary which will help offset the cost of attending a course. You can find out more about the bursaries, what is involved with applying and download the bursary application form here.

Are there square dancing conventions?
Upcoming National Conventions can be found on the Canadian Square & Round Dance Society Website See the Events Menu tab.