The Origin of Square Dancing

Many people assume that Square Dancing was started in America and then spread around the world. However, from the history of Square Dance we learn that it actually originated in 17th Century France, Scotland, Ireland and England. The early settlers took the traditional dances to America, where they were put into a square. In this fashion it remained a popular country dance.

Henry Ford himself ensured the future of Square Dancing. When he saw this way of dancing he was intrigued and could see the benefit of the activity to the community. He built the Lovett Hall in Chicago for the purpose of teaching Square Dancing. He later provided funds for the promotion across the States.

Initially dancers had to learn and memorize the routines, but with the advent of microphones and amplification the era of square dance caller was born. During the 40s & 50s a Mr Ed Gilmore travelled America far and wide to teach others to become callers and promote the activity.

Square Dancing was brought to Australia as early as 1950 and the first established clubs were in Melbourne, in Toorak & Brighton, started by Bill McGrath. In those days there was a backing band and there have been many outstanding musicians, callers and organizers in Australia. Today music for Square Dance calling is on records, tapes, CDs, mini disks and Lap Tops.

In the 1974 CallerLab was formed and one of its many functions was to standardize calls or moves to allow dancers to do the same moves/steps no matter where they travelled, firstly within America and later throughout the world. Wherever the moves are called, it is always done in English.

All around the world annual Square dance events are organized, State, National, International, as well as Youth and Singles Conventions, 3-5 days of solid dancing! The very first National Square Dance Convention was held in Canberra in 1960. The 50th Convention was held in Perth, the 51st in Darwin and so on, every year the National is in another town, a different State.

Hervey Bay was proud to host the QCA 32nd Qld State Square Dance Convention in 2012.


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