Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I start square or round dancing?

First of all, the dancing aspect is great fun, no matter what your skill level. Unlike most athletic activities, there’s no pressure to win. There’s no points and you’re not judged.  Meanwhile, studies have shown that square and round dancing allows you to become healthier while having fun. (Visit our Health Benefits page for more information.)  There’s also a great social aspect to square and round dancing, as you will meet new people.

What is Modern Square Dancing?

Eight people interact through a series of movements as “called” by the caller. Unlike square dancing of old where dancers followed a set pattern, there is more variety in modern square dancing.  There are still elements of older square dancing (as 8 people, paired up, form a square).

What is Round Dancing?

Brian Elmer of the Dance Connection  refers to round dancing as “choreographed ballroom dancing for couples.” Dancers progress as couples counter-clockwise in a large circle around the perimeter of the room, with the dancers being directed by a round dance cuer.  This enables the couples on the floor to perform the same dance moves simultaneously.

Do I have to memorize a long list of dance sequences?

No. Instead, dancers need only to learn the individual movements. The caller/cuer then randomly calls out the movements and they are put together to form the overall dance choreography.  While the dancers cannot anticipate what call will come next, many participants believe this makes square or round dancing more fun and exciting.

Is it difficult to learn how to square dance?

Not at all. As Willowdale’s Willowweaver’s website  describes it, “it’s more like walking in rhythm and forming patterns with the other dancers. Throw in some swinging and twirling, and some optional flourishes, and you will have a ball.” Basically, if you can walk, you can square dance.

Is Square and Round Dancing only for Seniors?

No. Whole many seniors are involved in dancing, it is because they began many years ago and are still enjoying it today as a fun and healthy activity. There are clubs for young adults and even teenagers.

Do I need to buy the fancy country and western clothes that is often associated with square and round dancing?

No. While many people who square dance often will buy that style of clothes, all you really need are clothes and (especially) shoes that are comfortable.

I don’t really like country music. Is that all I’ll hear?

No. Square dancing can be performed to any type of music which has a good beat. Songs from artists as diverse as Elvis Presley, George Strait, the Eagles, the Beatles and Beethoven can be used. Many clubs use “Jingle Bells” for Christmas-time square dancing.

I don’t have a partner. Can I still take part?

Of course. Singles are always welcome to participate. You will usually be paired up with another single (a great way to make new friends) or with one of the instructors.

What if I mess up?

Don’t worry. Even the most experienced dancers make mistakes sometimes. Everyone just laughs it off and continues on. Remember: there’s no points or judging. We’re just here to have a good time.

Square Dancing Terms

A list of common terms used in Square and Round Dancing to help you out.

Allemande Left

Corners face and take left forearms. Walk around each other to own position.


An experienced dancer who attends classes to fill out squares and help the caller demonstrate the proper way to perform various moves.

Circle Left

Dancers designated by caller join hands in a circle and walk to the left.

Circle Right

Same as Circle Left going to the right.


Lady on gentleman’s left. Gentleman on lady’s right.


Dance by definition. Callers will test the dancers’ knowledge of calls by performing them from various starting points, or from non standard positions.


Partners, or those designated by the caller, face. Walk around each other passing right-shoulders and then left shoulders back to own position.

Forward and Back

Three steps forward. High tens and back to position.

Head Couples:

Couples with their back or facing the caller, also known as couples 1 & 3.

Home position

A dancer’s position in the square dance formation at the beginning of a session.


Partners, or those designated by caller, face. Ladies curtsy and gentlemen bow.

Hot Hash

Another term for a patter call, the caller will announce moves rapidly and without pausing.

Ladies Chain

Ladies designated by caller walk to each other and take right hands. They pass by, dropping hands and give their left to that lady’s partner in his left hand. The gentleman place their right arm around the lady’s waist and turns her counter-clockwise to face the other couple. Ladies chain back the same way.


The lady to the gentleman’s right and the gentleman to the lady’s left.

Patter call

The caller uses the music as a background for prompting the dancers’ moves.


Partners, or those designated by the caller, cross hands in a skating position and walker counter-clockwise to position with the right arm over the left.

Rectangle dancing

Square dancing with six couples instead of four.

Side Couples

Couples 2 & 4.

Singing call

The caller actually sings parts of the song, intersperse with the moves.

Square your sets

A call for dancers to return to home position.

Star by the Right

Couples, or those designated by the caller, walk to each other and join right hands in a star formation and walk in the direction they are facing (clockwise).

Level of Calls


The simplest and most straightforward, such as “allemande left”, “right and left grand” and promenade.


Calls a level above basic.

Plus or Mainstream Plus

A step above mainstream, involving a series of related moved. They can appear complicated at first but are easy and fun once you learn them.

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