(Tentative) Results on 2014 Survey on Interest in Square Dancing

Here are some of the tentative results of the 2014 Survey on Interest in Square Dancing. I will add more details as I compile the results. These are the results from the first 140 respondents.

The survey is still open, so feel free to add your comments, especially if you are a non-dancer!

What country do you live in?
Please be aware that this is country of residence, not country of citizenship.

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What is your age?

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What is your gender?

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How many times have you square danced in your life?

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The options for this question, in order, were:

  • I have never square danced.
  • I had to square dance at school, but have never square danced outside of school.
  • I have tried square dancing once.
  • I have square danced a few times.
  • I used to square dance a lot, but I haven’t danced recently.
  • I square dance regularly.
  • Other

If you have never square danced, or if you rarely square dance, what is the reason?

Reason Respondents
I’m just not interested in square dancing. 41
I don’t have time to square dance. 26
I don’t want to commit to a series of lessons on square dancing. 21
I know some people who enjoy square dancing, but it’s just not for me. 19
I don’t like the costumes that square dancers wear. 16
I don’t like the music that they use in square dances. 16
Square dancing just doesn’t appeal to me. 13
I can’t dance. 11
I’m introverted and I do not enjoy mingling with big groups of people. 10
Square dancing seems like a lame/uncool thing to do. 9
Square dancing is for old people. 8
Square dancing is not an activity I would enjoy. 8
Square dancing is old-fashioned. 8
I don’t like square dancing. 7
I had to do square dancing at school and I didn’t like it. 5
Square dancing is not cool. 5
I don’t have a partner 4
Square dancing seems too difficult. 4
What is square dancing? 4
I know people who square dance and I am not like them. 3
Medical reasons / physically unable 3
No square dancing anywhere near me 3
Spouse does not like to dance 3
I don’t know any local square dancing groups 2
I know people who square dance and I don’t like them. 2
I’ve just never gotten around to trying it. 2
Not many young adult (21-30) dancers 2
Busy making a living and raising my children 1
Doesn’t seem like something that would be available in Japan as dancing isn’t popular. 1
Few opportunities to square dance 1
I accidentally stepped on the hem of someone’s dress while square dancing and completely ruined her costume 1
I am overweight and sustained activity can be difficult 1
i did semi-professional mexican folklore dancing for over 17 years. i would love to try square dancing now that i am older and far from my country (or when i go back) and enjoy it. 1
I work nights 1
it is not relevant to my heritage 1
It seems expensive. 1
Never seen it offered as an activity 1
No real reason, just never got involved after learning in the 4th grade. 1
No real reason, just no real interest 1
single women, never enough men 1
Square dancers are depicted as good wholesome upstanding people yet in fact they’re just plain NOT good people, IME. 1
The gender divide is too strict 1
There is simply no such thing as square dancing in my home country 1

What about square dancing would need to change in order for it to become more appealing to you?

  • Accessibility of square dancing club events
  • Be more like salsa? 😉
  • Can’t stand it. It’s square.
  • Change the name, get rid of bombastic callers and get rid of the committees who ruin square dancing.
  • Clubs need to support each other.
  • Combine with tap dance or clogging.
  • Costumes, music, the fact u can’t do it easily without a caller, right amount of people etc. Tonnes of hot guys 😉
  • Dancing plus food (not just one)
  • Don’t know really. Never thought of it.
  • Don’t need a partner (square dance for one)
  • Everything. This is not a stupid jokey answer either.
  • First you’d have to make me willing to dance at all. Then you’d have to make it not so “country”.
  • Having some free time.
  • I don’t like spinning, so if square dancing gets less spinning, I would try.
  • I have never seen a square dancing class, presentation/demonstration or heard anyone talk about it. I guess the opportunity to try it would be the first thing that would have to happen.
  • I love dancing – I love ballroom dance, but I have never heard of square dancing!
  • I love it
  • I need to be a little lighter on my feet and a few years younger.
  • I square dance regularly, but so many I hear talk about it, their reason for not dancing is that they heard its to formal and they don’t want to wear the fancy clothes. Although I tell them not all clubs require it, the intent is still there so they don’t want to make that investment. Also, although they are hoping for a younger crowd.
  • I think I need more accessible resources (videos and literature) to feel more up to learning and continuing to square dance.
  • I would love to square dance, but I don’t really have the time. I tried ballroom dancing about 15 years ago, and I had the same problem then. Perhaps I should make time for more hobbies…I do like the music though.
  • I’m not a fan of any kind of group dancing (line, Scottish, etc), so I don’t think there’s much that can change about that.
  • If there’s any non patronizing free lesson, I’d like to square dance.
  • In England at least in uni we had a lot of ceilidhs which everyone really loved, but most people didn’t know the right moves. There were lots of other dance classes but not for this type of dance. So, opportunity to go to a class would be good. In the 40+ group cool or not cool so he not so important. Link it to weight loss and meeting people and you will be on to a winner!
  • Is there a way that my young boys (ages 6 and 10) could also participate, I would be more interested.
  • It already appeals to me. I would do it again if I had a chance to!
  • It needs to take less time to learn. Nine months of lessons is too long. There needs to be fewer calls at the entry level dance program.
  • It would have to be near to me, be okay for children to attend, and be at a time I was free
  • It’s more a matter of time- I don’t have enough time to fit in everything I want to do now, so it’s just not high enough up the list of priorities to make it into my schedule…
  • It’s not that I don’t like it, or it’s not appealing, I’m single, so I don’t have a partner, and I just never got involved in it after learning it in the 4th grade. It is something that seems interesting enough, and if I were in a relationship, I would probably try it again.
  • Just about everything
  • More modern music!!!
  • More single male dancers!
  • More time in my schedule, and more people I know square dancing to encourage me. I don’t want to dance with a bunch of older strangers.
  • Music
  • My husband hates dancing of any kind. I would need to rent a partner.
  • Nothing
  • Nothing
  • Nothing. I love it💃
  • Outfits
  • Perhaps a local chapter that does stuff? (or a way to find it). I’m in zip code 15656 for instance, and a quick google check didn’t find any. The top hits are for the generic local.com, all kinds of dancing.
  • Remind me less of Kansas
  • Room for improv
  • Saturday night dances are difficult for those of us who have an early call for church on Sunday.
  • See, square dancing in my mind is a traditional form of dance that is culturally rooted in white Protestant settlements in North America. While that’s an interesting cultural group in itself, I would feel as weird joining a Square dancing group as I would a Sioux Hoop dancing group, or a Japanese Bon dance group. Kinds of dance that have crossed over into general popularity are belly dance and hip-hop dance.
  • Since I like dancing, square dancing looks quite appealing and I am willing to try it out. The only thing is my tight schedule, since I am committed to another type of dancing.
  • Sorry, nothing. I am not interested in it…maybe beer!?
  • Specifically beginners’ classes targeted at people with some mobility issues, like ‘gentle’ yoga classes. Drop-in classes. Location convenient to me as I am dependent on public transit.
  • The economics. People don’t hire the best caller. They hire the cheapest one and/or the one which will bring them the most profit. Dancers don’t go to the best dance. They go to the cheapest one and/or the one with the most free grub. Square dancing is stuck in the 1970’s. We pay 1970’s prices for 1970’s technology in sound systems and also in things to do. If you like the 1970’s then go for it. If you prefer something more modern, choose another activity
  • The music. the stereotypical crowds of old people, white country bumpkins, yolkles. I will admit my personal experience with people who enjoy square dance halls has given me a stereotyped view. I’m not fond of being around large numbers of conservative, religious people, though I’m sure the crowd has become more diverse in some regions.
  • To have a place to dance near me
  • Too much
  • Women wear better costumes.
  • Younger callers! Current music!
  • Younger crowd
  • Younger people and maybe hipper music. It just seems the thing for retirees to do to keep busy and in shape. I might like it – I really enjoy line dancing and the music isn’t too different – but I think the outfits and impression have to become ‘modernized’ or at least more youthful before younger people will join in.
  • anyone being able to learn any steps they are interested in, not just people in male bodies doing male steps and people in female bodies doing female steps
  • don’t change a thing with square dancing, we only need better and more teachers
  • get away from “costume”
  • if could dance without costumes”
  • if partner wanted to I would try it
  • in japan, little chance of finding a group in my area. would be fun to do at this age. not so demanding as mexican folklore. would like to take lessons from an instructor who knows how to make it look good. don’t want to be just ‘stomping’ around. if i’m going to do it, do it well.
  • it would be nice not to have to buy and constantly wear the square dance clothing. You get thru lessons and then you are expected to spend $200 for matching outfits – it is to expensive for some people. They would like to go to dances and it is cheap entertainment but the cost of the clothing makes it very much not affordable for some people. They need to rethink their policies.
  • it’s difficult to explain…
  • modernize it
  • more couples and not just horney old men.
  • nothing
  • nothing at all
  • opportunities to try without making a huge commitment
  • try and get more young people involved…

Do you have any other comments that you would like to share about square dancing?

  • Don’t like “all position”
  • I like the wear and the music and would love to learn to yodel too.
  • I really like square dancing because of its social nature. Its made a great change to my emotional health and social life.
  • Looks like a lot of fun…
  • Square dancing was actually one of the best new things I’ve tried, and I enjoyed being able to meet different people and do different things.
  • love it…
  • Belly dance and hip-hop, and even flamenco have roots in a marginalized culture which give them a ‘cool’ factor. White Protestants in North America have not yet been a marginalized group; there is no ‘dark underbelly’ of square dance. Well, on second thoughts maybe there is, but nobody knows about it. If you want to make square dancing cool, you need a documentary showing its dark side!
  • Billy Ray Cyrus
  • Can’t stand it
  • Everything good!
  • Fun and challenging
  • I associate the idea of square dancing with line dancing, shuffleboard, bingo, etc., not that it’s specifically for old people but that older people do things in groups that are led by callers, instructors and the such. Conformity is not for me. Thank you. From an early age I viewed square dancing as something unhip… Something my friend’s parents did. I liked them but had nothing in common with them, from the “costumes” to the music and the whole atmosphere. I watched it on TV and instinctively knew it wasn’t for me. Like the type of Country and Western shtick with what I called phony American plastic culture “Square” mentality. Give me any other type of dance but not this. I have no problem with other people liking it. I simply don’t (like it and what it represents to me). The name itself is “square”. I think it says it all.
  • I could be persuaded to try it once or twice but not regularly.
  • I did it in 4th grade and enjoyed it (growing up in the south, it was hard to avoid). It just never appeared on my radar as something that folks did for fun, or in an approachable manner (such as swing dancing groups that are either WAY too advanced for a newbie, but there are some that will train the n00bz)
  • I did square dancing a bit when I was young and I loved it, even the memory of it makes me smile.
  • I do think it’s pretty cool, just not something I enjoy. I’m more solitary.
  • I love square dancing
  • I loved it as a youth, but these days there aren’t many appealing dances for adults who aren’t 40+
  • I really enjoyed square dancing but got busy with life and never got back to it!
  • I think it’s great but just haven’t had the time to get into it.
  • I think many people don’t appreciate how interactive it is because they don’t appreciate physical interaction like they used to.
  • I’m not into dancing as it is, but I think of square dancing as being pretty simple movements, where the crowd is all doing essentially the same thing in unison. That appeals to me even less.
  • If this was swing dancing, I would be more inclined to join.
  • It is like family. Square dancing helped me after I lost my husband. He never danced but I started 1 year after he passed. My life is good! I’ve met some wonderful people😊
  • It looks to me that many of the callers that you are sharing this survey with don’t even teach square dance classes. Many of them haven’t taught a class in at least 10 years.
  • It seems like those who do it, love it!
  • It’s “square” but still fun and good exercise.
  • It’s a lot of fun, but looking for more to get involved.
  • It’s fun and the people are so friendly.
  • It’s not that I’m averse to square dancing. I just have other priorities.
  • Maybe square dancing needs to be promoted more to singles as I didn’t realize that you didn’t need a partner and went line dancing but thankfully I found square dancing 5 years ago and dance nearly every day of the week. My other thought is that some callers push their learners thru far too quickly so it becomes too hard too fast and they quit because it becomes just too hard for them and they don’t enjoy being pulled around.
  • More advertising, maybe..?
  • My grandma did it – lots of oldies there. Easy on the joints. I would be interested in retirement 😉 maybe…
  • No.
  • Not really. It is fun, and if you are with someone that likes it or is open to the idea of joining, it would really be a lot of fun. I know it is good exercise, also. (I had knee replacement surgery and I don’t know if I could do this even if I wanted to). I think it’s an awesome dance!
  • Promote causal clothing as an option.
  • Square dancing is great in so many ways. It involves social interaction, intricate movements, and just plain joy!
  • Square dancing is one of the most fun activities I have ever done. There are so many great people you meet. There are lots of fun things to do and places to go.
  • Still fun
  • The costumes are “dandy” looking but it would be nice to see modern square dance costumes, too
  • The people who do it seem happy.
  • Too often when we go to a dance it seems to us there too many cliques and not enough dancing
  • Torture in JHS… don’t need to revisit at this point in my life.
  • Traditional square dancing is relevant to a few specific cultural groups (mid-west, Metis). I occasionally participate in similar dancing that applies to my Scottish heritage.
  • We’re deluded into believe that square dance friendships are solid, yet the plain fact is that the friendships are VERY flimsy. Callers have no morality whatsoever. Dancers have no loyalty. We reward mediocrity (because it costs less) and we punish excellence (because it costs more). The activity shrinks each and every year. There has never (in the last 40 years) been even the slightest year-to-year growth in square dancing. It’s a doomed ship and some people insist on riding the Titanic all the way to the bottom of the ocean. it’s time to keep just the MOVES, and discard everything else, and rebuild a new activity based solely on the REAL part of square dancing (i.e. the moves). Everything else about square dancing is just an antique relic.
  • hate the mad dash to round up but being a single women that’s what I would have to do. I don’t mind dancing as a male but not all the time. I would love to get back into round dancing but once again being single this is not so easy.
  • nothing
  • remember watching my farm community members doing it at the community library awaaaay back when. they were really into it. we kids had to get out of the way or be tromped on. they looked like they were enjoying themselves so much. it was fast and furious. you really had to know the different steps and calls. that is a precious authentic memory to me.
  • the prices for dress can be a bit costly…

5 thoughts on “(Tentative) Results on 2014 Survey on Interest in Square Dancing”

  1. Sure can tell the people whom do not know the activity and those who do. Too bad the ‘unknown’ ones do not really get into it. White protestant settlement origin? Really! Try the Detroit area.


  2. Negative Nancy needs to find a new club if he thinks callers have no morals and friendships aren’t lasting. Because those things are defiantly out there.


  3. The “conservative, religious people” comment struck a chord for me. My wife and I, avid community dancers that had just moved to her central valley home town from the San Francisco bay area, were looking for some local dancing activities that we could do, and found the local square dance club. We were fine with the age differential (we were, and are, younger than the club’s average membership by about 20 years) and the outfits when we attended the September workshops, but this was fall of 2008, California was in the middle of a contentious referendum on marriage for gay folk, and prominently displayed on the snack table next to the goodies were flyers supporting the measure that eventually overturned the CA Supreme Court’s then-recent ruling allowing my gay friends to marry.

    We didn’t go back to workshops that year. When a club member called us back to find out why we didn’t return, I brought up the Prop 8 flyers. After that conversation, the display of political flyers at club stopped happening. Now, my wife and I still tend to be more liberal than our fellow club members, but some have become good friends, and all of them are interesting people. Sure, there are folks who grumble if I have to dance as a girl in order for a square to form, but at least we don’t have situations where someone will break up a square for that reason anymore


  4. I was surprised at how some replies imply rigid attitudes to clothing and learning square dancing. Our club is 65 years old. We have lots of “loaner” square dance clothing or people can wear what they are comfortable in. So our members do not have to spend a lot of money. We also allow “re-starts” where people who miss a few weeks can come back and we review. This helps other newer dancers feel successful since they are practicing moves they know and end up being Angels for the returning students. No grumbling heard, either. I agree that modern music would be very welcome and don’t push students too fast. We don’t discuss religion or politics at club activities, either.


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