Bows and Beaus Square Dance Club, started in Mountain View but now thriving in Los Altos, is completing a year of celebrating its 50th anniversary! Events during the year included a celebratory picnic with many former members in attendance, and recognition of the club's long history at its annual Ice Cream Fling Thing dance. In these times, as one form of exercise or dancing becomes popular and another fades out, what can explain not only the longevity but the vitality of Modern Western Square Dance?
Square Dancing provides wonderful health benefits for it’s participants: socialization, physical activity, and brain work, all qualities that medical science tells us supports and enhances our vitality and longevity. One saying that passes through the community is “dance in a square, make a circle of friends,” which is entirely true: working together as a team of four couples, everyone enjoying the music and camaraderie, bonds people in a mutual activity and focus, not to mention lots of laughter and smiles.
A bonus to local club activity is the hoedowns, festivals, and themed trips and excursions. Square dance clubs and organizations sponsor hoedowns (parties) usually on weekends, and other regional associations bring together the entire community for larger functions and programs, providing the opportunity to travel and meet new friends in other cities and countries while sharing the bond of square dancing.
Square Dancing is an American Institution and unofficially our national “Folk Dance.” It began in New England as the settlers from other countries came together and blended their own cultural folk dances. In the early 1930’s Henry Ford took on the revival of square dancing as part of his New England restoration project. From there, in the interest of making square dancing universal rather than regional, Modern Western Square Dancing was organized. Indeed, Modern Western Square Dance is so omnipresent that, while it is enjoyed in every country throughout the world, all square dance language is in English: yes, no matter where you travel, square dancing callers “direct” the dancers in English!
When the Bows and Beaus Square Dance Club first began in 1963 in the carport of an apartment house in Mountain View it was a designated “singles” club, and at that time most clubs’ memberships were restricted to either “singles” or “couples.” Today Bows and Beaus is a couples and singles club, inviting participants with or without a regular dance partner. There are also clubs that bring together dancers within certain communities: families, teens, gay and lesbian, handicapables, seniors, school-age, and of course, couples and singles, providing added opportunity for bonding and fellowship. Additionally, some people might remember learning to square dance in school, and remember the “costume” of full skirts and petticoats. While many dancers dress that way, square dancing has become more casual, too, and pants, jeans, prairie skirts, and non-western attire is very welcome also.
Would you like to learn to square dance? The Bows and Beaus Square Dance Club (caller/teacher Keith Ferguson) offers classes for adult singles and couples on Monday nights from 7:30 - 9:30 pm, beginning Monday, January 20th, 2014 at Loyola Elementary School on Berry Avenue in Los Altos. Participants may register and dance at the first two classes in January for FREE; after that there is a $5.00 fee per person per class thereafter. For more information, please visit the website at www.bowsandbeaus.org, or call Nanci (650-390-9261) or Tom (650-561-4551). Monday nights not good for you? There are plenty of opportunities to learn square dancing in our area! Check out the Committee to Promote Square Dancing (www.c-p-s-d.org), or our Dancer’s association (www.scvsda.org).