All posts by Shaney Crawford

Figurative Use: Volkswagen Golf Referred to as “Champion Square Dancer”

What are people thinking about when “square dancing” pops into their heads? Do the words have a positive image, or a negative image? In general, it seems that non-dancers often use the term in a negative way. However, sometimes the term is just used for style. In the case of the following use, I think (but I am not really sure) that square dancer is being used to refer to the fact that this car is “boxy”. My gut feeling is that they are making fun of the car, but then they use the word “champion”, so it’s a bit confusing!


You can see the full review here.

2015 Volkswagen Golf R
May 2015

Figurative Use: Square Dancing in Title of Article about Geometry

I have started a new category on figurative use of the term “square dance” in popular culture. I have noticed that the term is often used in a pejorative sense to indicate something “ridiculous” or “unnecessarily complicated with no real difference at the outcome”. The following article demonstrates a different kind of use. In this case, the article is about geometry, and squares (the shape, not the dance) make an appearance, so the author has chosen to use the term “square dancing” purely for style. I am happy that it is not pejorative, but I am sad that the article doesn’t actually mention square dancing. (It mentions “dancing squares”, but that is not really the same thing at all.)

Square Dancing
March 14, 2010

“Town Square” Dancing vs. Square Dancing

“Synchronized dancing in the town square” is not the same as square dancing. Apparently China is clamping down on noisy “square dancers” and this has been in the news lately, but many people, including the author of this article are confusing “dancing in the town square” with what has historically been known as “square dancing” in the West. They are quite different, and the only reason they are being confused is because of lazy translating.

The following article equates what the ladies in China are doing with square dancing that the royal family of Great Britain have done on visits to the US and Canada in the past. While I would LOVE to see the Queen and Prince Charles doing synchronized dancing in the town square, this is not what they were doing.

Sloppy reporting based on sloppy translating:

Square dancing unruly? Don’t tell the Queen

The Asian Square Dance

I’m going to make a new category for the term “square dance” being used figuratively, so we can gain some insight into how it is being used that way outside of square dance circles.

The “Modern Diplomacy” website has an ongoing series about diplomacy in Asia, that it has entitled “The Asian Square Dance”. I think the figurative use of square dance in this case refers to how the situation in Asia involves more than just bilateral relations between two countries (i.e. one couple), but seems to be a constant stream of partnerships and disputes between a larger number of stakeholders. The image of a “grand square” comes to mind, but with more partners meeting up and setting off again, and not done in such an orderly or predictable way.

Square Dance by Justin King

Sometimes people use the words “square dance” to describe things that have little or nothing to do with square dancing. Often, the use is pejorative, since so many people have preconceived notions of square dancing that are, shall we say, not flattering. In this case, though, I think Justin King is doing us a favour with this title. He is clearly an extraordinarily talented artist, and it is an honour to be associated with this calibre of music. Thanks, Justin!