An Introduction to the Various Styles of American Square Dancing

First and foremost, square dancing is about people - socializing, dancing, playing music, and connecting with each other Square dancing as we know it began in Europe in the 1600s. Over the centuries it has spread to many countries and has experienced quite an evolution. This evolution tells a fascinating story and points to a bright future for this flexible social dance form.

The details of the story of the North American square dance invite a great deal of speculation, and a fair amount of disagreement among the many people who care deeply about the activity. Note from Nils Fredland: "While I don't presume to be a scholar and expert on square dance history, I have developed my own understanding of square dancing's journey through time." We encourage you to develop your own understanding of this fascinating journey! To get you started, we offer the following overview of six categories of American squares. We have also included a very brief introduction to the rich history of Canadian square dancing.

May 2020 Update: Radiolab recently produced an interesting podcast about Square Dancing in the United States. You can listen to it here.


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