Gay square dancing

From Academic Kids

Gay square dancing is square dancing as it is generally danced in the Gay and Lesbian community. The first gay and lesbian square dance clubs formed in the mid-to-late 1970s in the USA. There are currently about eighty gay square dance clubs worldwide.

Gay square dancing is typically open to all square dancers, regardless of age, race, gender, religion, ethnic background, or sexual orientation. The dancing is generally modern western square dancing, as it is practiced throughout the world, standardized by Callerlab, the International Association of Square Dance Callers, and as generally practiced by clubs belonging to the International Association of Gay Square Dance Clubs (IAGSDC), the umbrella organization for gay square dance clubs.

In addition to gay modern western square dance clubs, there are gay and lesbian clubs for other dance forms, both square dance and non-square dance forms, including "traditional" and exhibition style square dancing.

This entry focuses on gay modern western square dancing, and it is understood to be the same as gay square dancing within this article.

The primary differences between gay square dancing and that practiced in non-gay clubs are:

  • Costuming: Gay square dancing has no costume or special clothing requirement or dress code. On the contrary many non-traditional outfits are acceptable. Shorts and T-shirts are perfectly acceptable. Non-gay square dancing in general categorizes costuming or clothing requirements as follows--
    • So-called "traditional" attire (actually dates only from the late '50s and early '60s)
    • Proper clothing
    • Relaxed or informal clothing
Clubs sponsoring dances advertise the level of costuming expected at their function.
  • Singles accepted: Gay square dancing has no partner requirement. In non-gay square dancing, one is generally expected to have a steady dance partner, and to always square up (get into a square) with a partner. At a gay square dance, it is permissible to get into a square without a partner and hold a hand up if you are looking for one. At non-gay clubs, many people dance with the same partner for the entire dance ("couple glue"), while at gay clubs people generally dance with a variety of partners throughout a dance.
  • One's dance role is less synonymous with one's actual sex: men often dance the women's part and vice versa, much more so than in the general western square dance community. A caller cannot rely on visual clues as to who is partnered up with whom.
  • Styling: There are many special styling variations and sound effects connected to gay square dancing.
  • Energy level: The energy level tends to be higher in gay square dancing.
  • Dancing with other clubs: Non-gay square dance groups often attend dances put on by other clubs in the area (so-called banner raids). Since it is rare to have more than one gay club in an area, clubs will instead host fly-ins, which will attract attendees from outside the region, and last an entire weekend instead of just one night. Both practices serve the same purpose of allowing clubs to have larger dances, but they greater distances traveled and greater length for fly-ins requires more planning and promotion, will usually have more than one caller, and will have higher fees.
  • Alcohol: Non-gay square dance groups generally have an absolute ban on alcohol at or near dances. Gay square dance groups do not treat this prohibition as an absolute, and some dance in gay bars. Most will prohibit alcohol at their regular classes and dances, both for liabilities reasons and to provide an atmosphere distinct from gay bars.
  • Age level: Non-gay square dancing tends to attract large numbers of retired and elderly couples. Gay square dancing involves many younger people.

History of gay square dancing Insert text re: history of gay square dancing

  • 1976 - Miami
  • 1979 - Miami Mustangs club formation
  • National Gay Rodeo
  • 1982 - Reno, NV
  • Feb 1983 - Miami fly-in
  • 1984 - Seattle first convention of National Association of Gay Square Dance Clubs
  • Name change to reflect Canadian clubs
  • First ten years explosion
  • Non-North American Clubs: Australia, Japan, Denmark

International Association of Gay Square Dance Clubs (IAGSDC)

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