I'm taking a short hiatus from square dancing in my second grade classes.They have already mastered squaring the set, circle right/left, dosido, partner swing, promenade, right and left grande, and more. Some parents from non-American cultures get distressed at the word dance, so what we're really doing here is-moving rhythmically in organized patterns, keeping a steady beat while listening to the directions from a caller chanting or singing over a traditional rural folk tune, that may have had it's origin in a Celtic country. This is just movement that has been going on since kindergarten (walking and moving to the beat of a musical selection). So, what's in a name? Apparently, quite a lot. In some cultures, dancing has connotations of unwholesome activities including seduction. OK, there is that reality in our culture also, and it does make for easy confusion with what we do in elementary school which is anything but seductive.
  It wasn't too long ago in our own history, that square dancing was looked upon with disdain by many Americans, especially those in the rural areas. Square dancing was an activity not suitable for young folks. Those banjos, fiddles, mandolins and guitars were just too seductive. This was the thinking, true or not, that led, as you know, to play parties. Play parties were more or less square dances without the banjos and fiddles. The movements were mostly the same, but curses be on any folks performing these in a square or with instrumental music. Play parties-good. Square dances-evil.
   I'm sure that at that time in history, play parties were more on the wholesome side, lots of adult chaperones and held in homes etc. It seems silly, looking back, that just a banjo and a square formation could change the nature of the same activity, but in their minds it was two different things. We are fortunate today that play parties came about. Without the play party, many of our folk tunes would be just tunes without words. Thankfully, play parties were singing events and the dancing couldn't happen without the singing.
   I sometimes get disgusted and resentful (in my mind only, folks) with a parent who suddenly wants their child to stop participating in musical movement, the same movement we've already been doing, just because it now happens in a square and now has that word "dancing" in it. I  tell myself to take a deep breath and remember that this parent may have a distorted definition and vision in his head of something that doesn't look anything like the movement the students are doing. A part of me wants to just tell the kids that we are going to be moving around from a square formation, but being from Texas, where the State Folk Dance is Square Dancing, I have to keep using the proper term. Fortunately, the next dance they will learn will be done in wholes lines and is called called a dance, but a Virginia Reel!