13 Feb

Nerds and Square Dancing

I found it: one of my favorite passages about square dancing. I think this comes the closest to describing what I find so appealing about the activity. It’s from a 1993 book, Up the Infinite Corridor by Fred Hapgood.

But while we’re on the subject of descriptions of square dancing, this page is linked to from almost everywhere. It’s basically a rehash of the CALLERLAB “New Song and Dance” brochure of a few years ago. I wish we could get brochure with pictures showing people in regular clothes. Or maybe some pictures from Tech Squares.

And then there was the description of challenge dancing from Rolling Stone (by Julian Dibbell, August 21, 1997, p. 76):

Hot Geek Scene: Challenge Square Dancing

Square dancing at the challenge level is more like a fast-moving game of chess than a hoedown. The attire is running shoes and shorts; the locale is typically urban (with lively scenes near high-tech academic centers like Stanford and MIT); the music could be anything from Broadway to techno; and the aim is to perform mind-bogglingly complex maneuvers on cue, following the rapid-fire instructions of the designated “caller.” When nobody’s screwing up, the choreography can mesmerize – like a Rubik’s Cube in graceful motion. “Challenge dancing is square dancing taken to its puzzle-solving extreme,” wrote longtime caller Lynette Bellini on her Web page. She recommends the activity to anyone with “a bent for algorithmic thinking and problem solving,” and notes that about 75 to 80 percent of challenge dancers have high-tech backgrounds. Not that everyone who challenge-dances crunches algorithms for a living, of course. But then, not everyone who discoed in the ’70s was a gay man, nor was every ’80s break dancer an inner-city teen.

Another thing from Tech Squares; you have to know your square dancing really well for this puzzle.

I’ve been websurfing today…there are 512 sites on the Square and Round Dancing Web Ring. Boy howdy, there are some ugly sites out there. What’s with red type? Do people think it makes their sites easier to read?

I also found out that the sd-callers mailing list, which is probably the main internet discussion area for square dance callers, is not officially archived anywhere. Too bad; stuff goes through there that really shouldn’t be lost.

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