Square Dancing at Central

Jennifer Signorino, Contributor

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Every year right before winter break the unit in gym that most Central students look forward to more than any other activities has started: square dancing. This is is a short unit our school has done for decades. It only lasts a little more than a week, but it gets really competitive, nonetheless. People from other schools look at us like we’re crazy when we talk about square dancing, but you have to do it to really know how much fun it is.

On the first day, everyone makes their groups within their gym class and the freshmen come into the big gym for the week. Something new is taught every day, and slowly more and more moves are added on. As the days go on, the songs get more complicated, and on the second to last day there are semi-finals to see which groups from each class qualify for finals. Normally, the freshmen don’t make it since it’s so new to them and they learn so much at once, so it’s a lot harder. For upperclassmen, it’s a lot easier because they have more years of experience. But regardless, everyone makes mistakes.

The groups that make it to finals miss class for the competition. It starts right after homeroom and normally goes to around fifth period. Each group matches their outfits for this competition. The most popular way to go is flannels, but some groups choose to be different and do things like Christmas sweaters or Hawaiian shirts. In the beginning, there are way too many groups to all go at once in the gym, so the first three periods normally go first, and some are eliminated. Then the next three go, and more are eliminated, until there is enough for all the groups to go at once. Groups can get eliminated for making bigger mistakes, or as it gets down to the wire they can nitpick things like only turning halfway for something that was supposed to be a full 360 rotation. Also, there can be rounds when no one is eliminated or a whole bunch of groups are eliminated, it really just depends on how each group does. A caller is also brought in to mix things up because eventually the students know every song and it gets too easy to memorize what comes next.

What most people don’t realize is how tiring square dancing really is, especially during finals. Even though it doesn’t sound like it, it really is a workout. Being on your feet for four hours gets draining. When asked about how to keep up your energy, third place champion last year, Peter Rahtjen, says “I don’t get tired, champs don’t get tired.”

While you do need to be able to learn fast because they always teach something new at the finals each year, you don’t really need to be good at dancing to be a good square dancer. The key thing is to really just listen and work with your group. Another third place champion, Dez Gilliard, talks about her group last year, “I loved how at first we were all goofing around but eventually everyone got serious and we were like ‘okay let’s just talk to each other. We got this, just listen to the caller’, and the rounds just kept going and going, and next thing we knew we were in the final round.”

Students love square dancing so much that now there is a fundraiser in around January where anyone can make their own group and come to the school and square dance for one night. Students also just sqaure dance for fun all the time, like at practice goofing off and even the class of 2018 did it a little at prom last year. This just goes to show how much people really enjoy square dancing, as weird as it sounds.