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International Day of Square Dance

"🎶 Ace of Diamonds, Jack of Spades,
Meet your partner & promenade ..."

Places all. Bow to your partner! Bow to your own! Square dancing is a social dance form with English, French, and Scottish-Irish roots. Four couples are generally arranged in a square with one couple on each side facing the middle of the square. This tartan celebrates the tradition of square dances, dating back to the early Gaelic speaking settlers in the community of Mabou, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. The dance has three parts or figures represented by the three colours in the design: red represents the energy the dancers bring to the floor; black represents the dark wood of the fiddles, playing jigs in the first two figures and reels in the third figure; the three white lines are representative of the dancers, meeting and changing positions, with interlinking of arms throughout the three figures. Square dancing in all its forms can be enjoyed all over the world in Modern Western Square Dance, Folk Dance, Barn Dance, Maritime Canadian Dance, Scottish Country Dance, Irish Set Dance and many more! Got a favourite? 🕺 💃

A square dance is a dance for four couples, or eight dancers in total, arranged in a square, with one couple on each side, facing the middle of the square. Square dances are part of a broad spectrum of dances known by various names: country dances, traditional dances, folk dances, barn dances, ceilidh dances, contra dances, Playford dances, etc. These dances appear in over 100 different formations, of which the Square and the Longways Set are by far the most popular formations.

Square dances contain elements from numerous traditional dances including English country dances, which were first documented in 17th-century England, and 18th-century French quadrilles and cotillions; square dancing travelled to North America with the European settlers and developed significantly there.

Square dancing is done in many different styles all around the world.  In some countries and regions, through preservation and repetition, square dances have attained the status of a folk dance. Square dancing is strongly associated with the United States, in part due to its association with the romanticized image of the American cowboy in the 20th century,  and 31 states have designated it as their official state dance.  The main North American types of square dances include traditional square dance and modern western square dance, which is widely known and danced worldwide. 

Other main types popular in England, Ireland, and Scotland include Playford dances, regional folk dances, ceili, Irish set dances, and Scottish country dances!

Tartan design by Dianne Quimby

For more about Scottish and Cape Breton Dance Traditions, click the square dancing couple!

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