Square Dancing: ‘Do Si Do’ Your Way To Health

If you can walk—and if you know your right from your left—square dancing is a perfect way to add fun, friends and exercise to your life.

Here’s a perfect example: It’s a Tuesday night and we’re helping new square dancers in Glenview review the intricacies of the Tea Cup Chain … and whoops, THAT wasn’t right. Gales of laughter from everyone. In a good way, of course.

As an “angel,” I’ve taught square dance to beginners for the past 5 years. Not only do the classes guarantee plenty of laughs, they also introduce you to an activity that you can enjoy for years, that lead you to new friends and even new countries.

You may have tried square dance waaaay back in junior high school, but trust me. Today’s version is entirely different.

Just to review, square dancing is when four couples carry out calls given by the caller, all in time to music. There are more than a hundred moves, taught at three levels. Some are easy: “join hands and circle left,” while many others are considerably more complex.

Music-wise, forget those images of old-timey tunes. Today’s callers use just about everything: Broadway tunes, rock, marches, Scottish bagpipes and even the Mickey Mouse song, plus contemporary country music.

Why Square Dance?
Why square dance? Mainly because it’s fun, both in learning the moves and in using what you learned. (Think “Simon Says” for adults.) You’re moving, listening and responding—ideally, all at the same time. But when you (inevitably) go one way and everyone else in your square goes another, what else can you do but laugh?

Almost anyone can learn to square dance, even those of you with the proverbial “two left feet.” You’re basically walking in time to the music while forming patterns with the other dancers. Throw in some swings and twirls, and you’re golden.

Square Dancing For Body and Brain
What most people don’t realize are all the benefits of square dancing.

Square dancing is good exercise. The brisk pace can tone your entire body. Wear a step-counter during a dance and you’ll see that you’ve covered three to five miles of walking in an evening.

Square dancing is a workout for your brain, too. As you perform the many “cross-lateral” movements—action involving both sides of your body—the two sides of your brain are forced to communicate, strengthening nerve-cell pathways and keeping your mind sharp.

If you like to travel, square dancing can help you make friends all over the world. Since calling is done in English, language is not a barrier. You can use the web to contact groups across the United States, not to mention Australia, China, Europe, Japan, Israel, New Zealand and more.

Where can I learn?
Beginning square dance lessons start in September and run through May. Here are three North Shore clubs offering lessons. For more details, visit the website of the Metro Chicago Square Dance Association.

In Glenview, lessons take place on Tuesday evenings starting in September, hosted by the Glenview and the Square Spares Square Dance Clubs. Contact Janice Cha, 847-309-1329, email Janice.cha@sbcglobal.net.

In Park Ridge, the Happy Twirlers Club offers ongoing lessons on Monday evenings for people who’ve square danced before. Contact Carolyn Lopez, 847-698-5501 or email giacomin@sbcglobal.net.

In Arlington Heights, Tuesday evening lessons launch in September, sponsored by the Arlington Squares. Contact Donald Kempiak, 847-991-3569, email lessons@arlingtonsquares.com.

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