Category Archives: In Popular Culture

Yet Another Square Dance Reference on That 70s Show!

When Eric invites Mitch to join the kids in the basement:

Hyde: Forman, why’d you invite him over? You were almost out of there, and you turned back around.

Kelso: There’s only two times in life that you turn back around: basketball and runway modelling.

Fez: No, and square dancing. It’s called a do-si-do.

Season 6, Episode 19

The funny/sad part is that you don’t turn around in a do-si-do…

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Square Dancing on The Next Step

Let’s do “something old-fashioned and weird”. (The Next Step: Season 3, Episode 17)

This one at least gets points for having an African American character saying it’s one of his favourite hobbies, and for having one of the characters suggest that square dancing needs an image change. Points off for adding line dancing at the end and making it seem more contemporary and fun.

Square Dancing on That 70s Show

When Red and Eric forget Kitty’s birthday, they agree to do something that she wants that is “the most horrible thing in the world”. (That 70s Show: Season 3, Episode 17)

This is, unfortunately, another example of how square dancing has a negative image in popular culture. The dancers in this video are not following what the caller is saying, the costumes are the usual ridiculous froofy dresses, and the music is hokey. That 70s Show was very popular when it was on the air, so it is too bad that this opportunity to show how fun square dancing can be was missed.

Figurative Use: Full Scale Government Hoedown

In 2013, the US government shut down over arguments about the federal budget. The very funny people at The Onion decided to refer to the shutdown as a hoedown, and included many references to square dancing and other kinds of folk dances in the article.

U.S. On Verge Of Full-Scale Government Hoedown
September 30, 2013

While many bemoan the decrease in square dancing around the world, it seems that square dancing terms can still be used and generally understood in popular media. Square dancing is still fairly well-known, if not well-practiced, at least in the United States.

The association between square dancing and right wing (Republican) thinking is also apparent in this article. I do wish that association didn’t exist. I like my hobbies to be non-partisan…

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!

volkswagen

You can see the full review here.

2015 Volkswagen Golf R
http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/2015-volkswagen-golf-r-test-review
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
http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/03/14/square-dancing/
March 14, 2010
(pdf)