Secretary Report June, 2018
As a member of JACKS AND JILLS, more and more, I am finding myself in conversations with other square dance advocates discussing potential means of growing the square dance activity and extending the current gust of growth currently blowing through the Youth Square Dance Community in our area. It got me thinking about what I am doing to help the square dancing activity grow and how each of us in our own small way can grow our individual dance communities.
From my point of view, “square dance” is made up of two things: the dance itself and the people. The community is what brings life to the dance. To build one up is to build the other and that is the approach I have taken to helping square dancing grow. For some time after I started square dancing, I struggled to feel if I had any particular belonging to the square dancing world I was participating with I mistakenly assumed that since I had a very unique upbringing that I would always stand apart from any crowd that didn’t know my culture and family. Quickly, I found that these “square dancing people” who were not as different as I would have assumed, were interested in getting to know me. It may seem like a funny thing, but one of the biggest impacts that square dance has had on my life was to afford me the opportunity to find that I could let people know who I was as a person, through my actions and interactions, without previous introduction to the way I saw the world. I had found a safe place to grow.
I am sharing this example from my own experience to illustrate the key role that the relationships square dancers play in the making of a tentative newbie into an invested and happy member of the square dance community. At the 2017 Washington State Square Dance Festival in Spokane, I fell into a conversation with an older Caller and one story he recalled to me exemplified something very important about square dancers. He recalled a conversation he had with some security guards at a big square dance convention. They had said to him, “I wish you would have told us that you all were going to be “very little trouble” at the beginning of the weekend. We could have all gone home.” The guards went on to tell him that thousand dollar cameras and hundreds of backpacks and bags had been left unattended all over the facility for the whole weekend and not one thing was stolen. They were blown away. Even church events always have theft s and disturbances of the peace.
I wasn’t surprised, but why? I can guarantee you that out of the hundreds of people at that convention, not all of them were honest, but then why was it that there were no theft s when it would be so easy? This blessed sanity, I believe, we can attribute to the dancers. We touch each other physically while dancing which is proven to build rapport. Every right and left grand is like a handshake and no one is nameless or faceless on the dance floor. Everyone gets a chance to be seen and known and in our current world, that is uniquely powerful. I believe that square dancing has become a safe place for many people of all walks of life just like it did for me. I want to help square dance grow so that many more people can be blessed like I have been and I am doing so by building up the people. We are the community who will extend the joy of friendship and the freedom of dance to all future square dancers.
Anna Freeman, firstname.lastname@example.org