I recently read Buzzfeed's page on the 22 bad things about gym class in school. But the thing that was actually good about it was square dancing unit. It's ironic that each time I read horror story after horror story about it, I sensed wonderful memories of it. I agree with the people who hate doing the unit in gym who cite cootie-phobia and discomfort from dancing with opposite genders as reasons for their animosity towards it.
But I have another reason in mind: the lack of exposure.
This reason stems mostly from personal experience. I got acquainted with square dancing even before my PE coach taught it. I don't recall seeing any live performances or attended events, but I saw scenes from TV shows and kidvids of people dancing it.
The "Turkey in the Straw" segment from Mickey's Fun Songs: Campout at Walt Disney World, is a prime example of this. I first watched the video when it came out in 1994. Of all the segments of the video, that one gave me an introduction to the dance. I pictured myself dancing with the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue dancers, all in traditional square dance garb, with Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy watching it all.
Fast forward to nearly 3 years later, and my PE coach finally taught us the square dancing unit. Almost all the class - me included - actually had fun! While a lot of my classmates enjoyed it for that reason only, I enjoyed it for both that and prior exposure. Eventually, the Valentine's Day dance was themed to a hoedown. And I came out cootie-free, to the contrary.
Again, a lot of kids and adults old enough to remember do-si-doing in gym class as kids hated it due to the lack of prior exposure amid cootie fears and social awkwardness. So I proposed that if PE classes ever do the unit or still do it, they should at least offer site suggestions for students who watch online videos (a lot of them have YouTube in their homes).
Or - if money and time aren't issues - they could invite a small group of square dancing club members in full frock in their next school assemblies. It's like classical music - just as teens think it's uncool, so do they with square dancing because even recent mainstream media (with the exception of just searching for square dance videos) does very little to expose them to it enough.
So, if you are in the minority of people who enjoyed square dancing in gym, why did you enjoy it? Are your family members callers/musicians/dancers themselves? Did you attend a club before your PE teacher offered the unit?
We didn't have square dance in gym class; we had international folk dances. We learned the Hava Nagila, from Israel, and a Greek dance, the Misirlou. (spelling?)
It was "sort of" fun, but I thought the effect was ruined by the ugly gym clothes we were required to wear. And it was not co-ed, so the girls danced all the parts, if there were separate male/female sets of moves.
With the two I mentioned, there were not.
The Hava Nagila was fun for me, as it gets faster and faster and faster, with dancers dropping out as they can't keep up, and manage the footwork at the faster speeds, until there would be only 4 or 5 left in the final group. I usually managed to be one of those.
I enjoyed the square dancing unit. Most gym stuff is sports oriented, and I am not into sports, so it was nice to know you could exercise without doing sports. I think they should have taught a variety of dances. That would have helped me feel more comfortable about going to the school dances.
" I think they should have taught a variety of dances. That would have helped me feel more comfortable about going to the school dances." Well said! There are a lot of schools having problems with grinding. During my homecoming and prom, I hate to admit, there was grinding at both dances. If children were exposed to and taught a variety of social dances - be it The Cupid Shuffle, Hole in the Wall (an English Country Dance), or the Virginia Reel - then we wouldn't have such a problem with that in the first place.
Oh, and did you know that Henry Ford (of Model-T fame), with the help of reelmaster and caller Benjamin Lovett first implemented the unit in the schools' PE classes to deter youngsters from growing up too soon and doing the vulgar dances of the day? This was the 1920's, and dances of the time like the Charleston contributed to moral decay, according to them. In theory, that's probably one of the reasons why some PE teachers have them today.
The main reason I enjoyed square dancing in middle school gym was that we didn't have to change into our gym uniforms and danced in our regular school clothes. Sort of a silly reason, I know, but it's one I remember. And the boys and girls danced together.
There was also a sense of accomplishment when you got to see how a Virginia Reel came together. It was a pretty cool effect, if you think about it.
Oh yes! The Virginia reel! I hope you enjoyed it!
Oh, and my childhood friends from Texas (all of them Filipino) joined a square dancing club - and they are even a few years younger than me! They revealed it after Mass in church yesterday when they visited me and my extended family.
I bet that if they'd continue with it once they have kids and have theirs attend said events when old enough, they probably wouldn't mind the square dancing unit in PE!
Okay so I loved square dancing in Gym Class , Why , because I got to swing with Martha H......! She was probably my first love . Second grade was difficult at best on my poor little heart ! I still can't get over her marrying someone else !
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