The History of Square Dance

Square dances contain elements from numerous traditional dances including 17th-century English country dances, 18th-century French quadrilles and cotillions, and African American social dances. Square dancing was brought to the United States by settlers and spread westward. Typically, communities raised a barn and danced to celebrate its completion, and so our roots come from community, volunteerism, and support of worthy causes. At these events there was an experienced dancer that volunteered to lead the other dancers through the figures. These experienced dancers acquired additional square dance skills as they moved from community to community.

As the Industrial Revolution gained momentum, the population became more urban and square dancing became more popular in cities. In the 1930s there was a push to learn square dancing in Michigan and Colorado. Enthusiasts trained teams of student dancers that performed in Los Angeles, Boston, New York, and New Orleans. When soldiers returned from World War II, reunited couples wanted to engage in social activities together, and interest in dancing began to mount. Our dance form is a blending of dance forms from other nations combined with our unique calls, choreography, growth, and practice. It is a dance form that has now circled the globe, and is always called in English.