Square Dance History Project
The rich story of North American square dance finally has a home in the digital age.

About the Square Dance History Project

Square dancing has been an integral part of American social life for centuries. Traditional square dance was vital for generations of Americans, especially in rural communities; in the post-World War II era, modern square dance similarly enjoyed participants numbering in the millions.

Despite its popularity, the history of square dance has not been well documented. Scores of books explain specific figures and calls, but there are few current sources that offer a detailed discussion of the development of this form of American social dance. We hope this site helps to fill that need.

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African-American quadrille, 1914 (#2)

This comes from the Prelinger Archives and the footage appears to be from the same reel as another itemin our collection. The first part of the footage shows common quadrille figures: opposite couples… View item
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How Squares Evolved – Tony Parkes

Dance caller and historian Tony Parkes leads a workshop on how square dancing changed from traditional forms to modern squares as found in MWSD clubs. He starts by looking at "swoopies," circular… View item
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Take a Little Peek - Floyd Lockhart

We've been unable to locate information about caller Floyd Lockhart—please contact SDHP if you have any—but he's paired as a caller on the album on which this file appears with Jim… View item
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Jim Munyon

This album sent us searching to learn more about the two individuals. We've determined that "Munyan" refers to Jim Munyon, who was a southern California dance caller who appears in numerous newspaper… View item
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Wreck of the Old '97 - Jim Munyon

Jim Munyon was a popular caller in southern California in the early 1950s. Indeed, he was one of the callers at the famous (and enormous) 1950 square dance in Santa Monica with Lloyd Shaw as the MC.… View item
Website

Explaining Traditional Squares and Contras to MWSD folks

This website is an effort by Clark Baker—a MWSD caller who also enjoys traditional contras and squares—to explain those more traditional forms to modern square dancers. Clark's essay begins: … View item
Document

MWSD Named Dances

In the world of modern western square dance today, most callers create the choreography for each dance. Even singing squares, where there is more repetition of figures, can vary each time through, and… View item
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Clark Baker - traditional and modern

In this fifth and final video in this series, Clark Baker looks at two related kinds of dancing and explains the attraction of each: MWSD squares, especially in the Challenge program, on one side, and… View item
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Clark Baker - MWSD & music

Many traditional square dancers look at videos of MWSD and see a lot of stop-and-go rather than continuous motion; this is often termed "puzzle solving set to music." Clark reminds the viewer that in… View item
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Clark Baker - Calls and Concepts

In this third video in the series, Clark explains the difference between square dance "calls" and "concepts" and notes that "concepts are what make Advanced and especially… View item
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Clark Baker - MWSD & Challenge

Clark describes the structure of modern western square dancing as it exists today, outlining the different programs or levels. He then talks about he got involved in MWSD Challenge dancing, explaining… View item
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Clark Baker - Tech Squares

Clark describes the history of Tech Squares, the MWSD group based at MIT in Cambridge, MA. This club takes new dancers through the Mainstream in 8 weeks and on through Plus in 5 additional. A typical… View item