History of Square Dancing

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The History of Square Dancing In 1982, President Ronald Reagan signed an act of Congress declaring square dancing as the United States’ “official national folk dance”. This may seem strange as many of us would never choose to go square dancing, as it is usually considered both embarrassing and silly. However, with a good caller, it can be quite enjoyable. Dedicated square dancers ignore the negative quips and continue with their do-si-dohs. The origins of square dancing are hard to pinpoint. Historians and dance enthusiasts agree that square dancing is uniquely American. As America urbanized, square dancing became more and more uncommon. This is probably why square dancing is usually associated with farmers in the country wearing straw hats and plaid shirts rather than New Yorkers. Square dancing was only kept alive due to the efforts of Henry Ford, inventor of the Model T, the assembly line, and interchangeable parts. This role he took on in the history of square dancing may seem strange, but he was adamant that it stay alive. He extolled the virtues of square dancing in an attempt to foster a dance for that would counteract the “evils” of jazz. In 1923, Henry Ford hired square dance caller Benjamin Lovett to teach dancing instructors how to become square dance callers. Lovett remained in this position for 26 years. Ford even sponsored a dance program for the Dearborn public schools, and soon Mr. Ford was sponsoring square dance programs in many other schools. Square dancing was then brought to numerous college and university campuses at Mr. Ford's expense. During a Sunday radio program that was broadcasted over the country, Ford hired Lovett to call dances that had been printed in the newspaper the previous week. Lovett maintained a "staff" of twelve to fourteen callers, all maintained by Mr. Ford's generosity. Eventually Henry Ford had a new,

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