Back in 1910 John Bossidy made this memorable quote:
"And this is good old Boston,
The home of the bean and the cod,
Where the Lowells talk to the Cabots,
And the Cabots talk only to God."
This was aimed at snobbery. Are some square dancers becoming Lowells and Cabots? Skill Snobbery seems to be rearing its ugly head, especially with the new popularity of more advance forms of square dancing.
When we were taking our basic lessons, we were urged (or should have been urged) by our caller to "mix and mingle". This is where the camaraderie starts that makes square dancing such an enjoyable activity. You suddenly find you have an enormous circle of friends, all struggling to achieve the goal of becoming accomplished Mainstream Dancers. This "mixing and mingling" also helps keep the entire class near the same level of accomplishment.
Sometimes at Plus Workshops – and this gets more pronounced at the Advanced level where more than one club may be involved – a square of dancers from one club, or one area, may decide to attend a Workshop together. To be charitable, we might say they are too shy to square up with strangers in the new environment. In some cases, however, these people do not wish to square up with others for fear the others may not be apt learners, and they might not be getting their "money’s worth." This group then becomes a little clique, and even in their home club, they may continue with their "pat square". They may even go so far as to keep their eyes open to find other dancers they think might be "eligible" for the "honor" of being asked to join them should one of their couples be ill or on vacation.
Maybe they are getting their "money’s worth". Maybe they are having fun. But they miss one of the best advantages of square dancing – friendship. Their circle of friends becomes very limited. Sometimes other dancers will shun them for their lack of club spirit. Some, when asked if they will square up with a "pat square" in the next tip, will even politely decline and say they do not believe in planning squares in advance’s
We note some callers resort to passing out numbers to couples as they enter, and make up random squares to discourage this practice. This is more prevalent in the Advanced and Challenge groups. These callers are to be commended. They not only help ALL the dancers to have fun, but theirs are the clubs that are more apt to grow and prosper. These clubs also have more visitors, because they are made to feel welcome even if they do not have the skills of the best dancers in the club they are visiting.
DANCERS – if you are guilty of planning your squares in advance, you may think yourselves to be the best square on the floor, but you not only miss out on the friendship and love available through square dancing, but on another benefit. There is nothing more pleasing than the feeling you get when you have a "weak" couple in your square, and though it’s a struggle, still manage to get everyone to their corner when that all important "Left Allemande" is called. You feel good – and the "Weak" couple feels great! It can be the best tip of the night.
CALLERS – Keep your eyes open for "pat squares" sneaking into your club. Do something about it – for the sake of square dancing – for your club’s sake – for the dancer’s sake – for your sake – and for the sake – for goodness sake.
Reprinted from September 1982 Bow & Swing
Reprint from Bow & Swing – June 2009
(Editor’s Note: We now call them "stacked" squares.)