In the early 1980s, modern western square dance organizations, which had been focusing on getting the square dance designated the official American folk dance of the United States of America, shifted strategies. The national organizations decided to focus on state-level designations. The intent was, and is, to use the states as leverage to obtain the same designation at the national level. Read more about the organized campaign to name the square dance the official American folk dance of the U.S.A.
Launching a campaign to name the square dance the official American folk dance in each of the fifty states was an ambitious endeavor. It was not an achievement where overnight success would be the order of the day. Campaign spokespersons estimated that securing a position of official American folk dance in a state would require at least two years of concerted effort.
The going could be unrewarding. If one could get a bill or a resolution sponsored by a lawmaker, there was no guarantee that the bill would receive a hearing, much less a vote on the floor of one of the legislative chambers.
And so it was in Missouri. A bill was sponsored. A bill died.
In October 1989 it was noted in American Squaredance magazine that Dean and Shirley Baxter were leading the campaign to designate the square dance the official American folk dance of Missouri.
In 1990, dancers had presented their case; written and verbal testimony and a performance for legislators. Shirley Baxter, spokeswoman for the group, also assumed the impromptu roll of caller.
1990 was not to be the Baxters' year. For a successful conclusion to their campaign, they would have to wait until 1995.
The vehicle was House Bill No. 98 (HB98). It proposed the square dance as the American folk dance of Missouri and was pre-filed by State Representative Bill Luetkenhaus on December 15, 1994.
After the holidays, lawmakers returned to the state capital. House Bill No. 98 was referred to the House Tourism, Recreation & Cultural Affairs Committee on January 18, 1995 for evaluation.
The fiscal impact of the bill on the state was calculated, an analysis of the viability of the legislation was completed and a public hearing was held on January 30th.
You can bet that Missouri square dancers attended that hearing and put on a good presentation. Hope was in the air and that hope was justified when, on February 23, 1995, the House Tourism, Recreation & Cultural Affairs Committee recommended that HB98 "do pass."
On March 15, 1995, House Bill No. 98 was approved in the House of Representatives, with a vote of 143 ayes to 10 noes, and reported to the Senate.
As it turned out, the House had approved House Bill No. 84 (HB84), proposing the Missouri mule be designated the official state animal, on February 16, 1995, about a month prior to their approval of the HB98, the official American folk dance bill.
When HB98 (American folk dance bill) reached the Senate it was referred to the Senate Conservation, Parks & Tourism Committee. It was in the Senate Conservation, Parks & Tourism Committee that HB98 (American folk dance bill) met HB84 (state animal bill).
It was also in this committee that it was decided that the two pieces of legislation would be combined into what is referred to as a "Senate Committee Substitute" or SCS. In other words, HB98 (American folk dance bill) met BH84 (state animal bill) and they became an SCS (American folk dance and state animal SCS).
Passage of the SCS, by the full Senate, was recommended by the committee and, on May 9, 1995, the Senate voted approval of the committee's SCS; 29 ayes to 4 noes.
Ordinarily, legislation would be forwarded to the governor for approval after passing the House and the Senate. But the SCS had technically changed the legislation that the House had previously approved and the SCS had to be returned to the House for their agreement before the legislation could be forwarded to the governor.
The House agreed (concurred) with the Senate's SCS by a vote of 144 ayes and 10 noes on May 10, 1995.
After the House concurrence vote, the legislation was signed by the Speaker of the House and by the President Pro-Tem of the Senate and forwarded to Governor Mel Carnahan on May 18, 1995.
On May 31, 1995 the legislation was signed by Governor Mel Carnahan and the square dance became the official American folk dance of Missouri and the Missouri mule was declared the official state animal of Missouri.
The square dance is a popular type of folk dance in the United States. This dance for four couples, or groups of four couples, is performed in a compact framework of a square, each couple forming a side. Traditionally accompanied by a fiddle, accordion, banjo and guitar, the couples perform a variety of movements prompted by the patter or singing calls (instruction) of a "caller". Cooperative movement is the hallmark of well-executed square dancing.
Square dancing is to be distinguished from related dances called contra or longways dance where couples stand double file in a line and from round dances where couples stand in a circle. The origin of the square dance can be traced to English derivation and to the stately French cotillion performed in square formation that was popular at the court of Louis the fifteenth later replace by the quadrille (another square dance).
According to the Official Manual State of Missouri 2015-2016, often referred to as The Blue Book:
The square dance was adopted as Missouri’s official American folk dance on May 31, 1995. Square dances are derived from folk and courtship dances brought to the United States by European immigrants. Lively music and callers are hallmarks of square dancing. The caller directs the dancers by singing the names of figures and steps to be performed. (RSMo 10.120)
(Official Manual State of Missouri, 2015-2016)
Read about the organized campaign to name the square dance the official American folk dance of the U.S.A.
The following information was excerpted from the Missouri Revised Statutes, Title 2, Chapter 10, Section Section 10.120.1.
TITLE II. SOVEREIGNTY, JURISDICTION AND EMBLEMS
Chapter 10.State Emblems
State folk dance.
10.120. 1. As used in this section, the term "square dance" means an American folk dance which is called, cued or prompted to the dancers and includes square, rounds, clogging, contra, line and heritage dances.
2. The dance commonly known and referred to as the "Square Dance" is selected for and shall be known as the "American Folk Dance of the State of Missouri".
(L. 1995 H.B. 84 & 98)
Associated Press. "It’s Official: Mule Is State Animal." The Joplin Globe 1 June 1995, sec. C: 1. Print.
Cavanaugh, Frank, and Helen Cavanaugh. "AMERICAN FOLK DANCE COMMITTEE." American Squaredance Oct. 1989: 70-71. Print.
Luetkenhaus, Bill. "HB98 Designates Square Dance as American Folk Dance of Missouri." Missouri State House of Representatives. State of Missouri, 20 Apr. 1995. Web. 22 Sept. 2013.
McBride, Jerry. "HB84 Designates the Missouri Mule as the Official Animal of the State." Missouri State House of Representatives. State of Missouri, 31 May 1995. Web. 22 Mar. 2013.
Official Manual State of Missouri. 2015-2016 ed. Jefferson City: State of Missouri. Missouri Secretary of State. State of Missouri. Web. 13 Mar. 2016.
"People In the News." American Squaredance May 1990: 41. Print.
"Section 10.120.1." Missouri Revised Statutes. Missouri Legislature. Web. 22 Mar. 2013.
Shearer, Benjamin F. and Barbara S. State Names, Seals, Flags and Symbols: A Historical Guide Third Edition, Revised and Expanded. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 3 Sub edition, 2001.
Square Dancing 101: Square dancing basic including positions, formations, moves, and a glossary.
Video Square Dance Lessons Online: Video Square Dance Lessons Online and on DVD from Cyberpoint Marketing, LLC.
A Brief History of Square and Round Dancing: by Herb Egender.
Square Dancing: The Historical Geography of an American Folk Custom: by Richard M. MacKinnon, Allan Hancock College, Santa Maria, California.
Square Dance History Project: Website devoted to the documenting the history of square dancing with historical documents and an emphasis on imagery as much as possible.
History and Heritage of Modern American Square Dancing: A summary of the essays by Dorothy Shaw, Bob Osgood and Kenny Reese.
The State Folk Dance Conspiracy: Fabricating a National Folk Dance: by Judy Mangin - Originally published in the Old-Time Herald, v.4(7) p.9-12, Spring 1995.
National Folk Dance Effort Moves Forward: We're On Our Way Now, So Let's Make a Lot of Noise!: United Square Dancers of America National Folk Dance Committee.
The Square Dance Legislation Collection: American Folklife Center 1984/024, Compiled by Michelle Forner, Library of Congress, Washington DC, December 1994
Official website: Missouri Federation of Square & Round Dance Clubs, Inc.
State dances: Complete list of official state dances from NETSTATE.COM
More symbols & emblems: Complete list of official Missouri state symbols from NETSTATE.COM.
Square Dance Fundamentals, John W. Jones. 208 pages. Publisher: BookSurge Publishing (February 5, 2007)
While there have been countless fun books written on square dancing, Squaredance Fundamentals was the first to cut to the chase. There is no interesting history of square dancing, there are no entertaining anecdotes, just the nuts and bolts of how to square dance. Revolutionary illustrations show the dancer’s point of view, not just the spectators’ viewpoint. Dancers can, without turning on their heads, glean from the detailed illustrations exactly what they need to be doing with their hands, feet, etc. Each dancer can effortlessly grasp the material and easily retain it. Renowned master caller/teacher, Marshall Flippo, assiduously assisted the author in establishing the very first guidelines for standardized “Basic Maneuvers” which would enable square dancers to dance gracefully with any group, anywhere.
No one shows you better how to execute the maneuvers than John W. Jones with his super simplified instructions and state-of-the-art illustrations in Squaredance Fundamentals - the gold standard for over 37 years.
The American Square Dance, by Margot Mayo. 116 pages. Publisher:Music Sales American (September 1, 2006)
You can have fun square dancing and you'll learn how to dance the figures and even learn how to call a square dance with Margot Mayo's classic manual, The American Square Dance. Here is the basic book for square dancers containing all of the essentials for many hours of enjoyment. An illustrated glossary of square dance terms shows all of the basic square dance figures – promenade, allemande left, do-si-do, etc. Complete instructions, calls and illustrated figures for 13 of the most popular American square dances appear, plus the music all ready for your pianist and fiddlers to play.
The Square Dance and Contra Dance Handbook: Calls, Dance Movements, Music, Glossary, Bibliography, Discography, and Directories, by Margot Gunzenhauser. 320 pages. Publisher: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers; annotated edition (July 28, 2010)
This comprehensive guide to traditional style square and contra dancing, sometimes referred to as "country dancing," covers both music and style and gives background information on various dance types and calling techniques. Ninety dances, presented in chapters according to type (mixers, progressive circles, contra, Southern mountain style, squares and others), in a wide variety of formations are described with drawings and diagrams for many of the movements. A glossary of terms, a directory of addresses (organizations; vendors of books, recordings and audio equipment; and dance camps), and an annotated discography and bibliography are also provided.
A glossary of terms, a directory of addresses (organizations; vendors of books, recordings and audio equipment; and dance camps), and an annotated discography and bibliography are also provided.
The Complete Book of Square Dancing (and Round Dancing), by Betty Casey. 208 pages. Publisher: University of North Texas Press (June 1, 2000)
This book includes: 50 basic movements, 35 advanced movements, variations, dances that are a part of the American heritage, Contra and Round Dances, polkas and reels, and calls, past and present.
“Square dancing is friendship set to music,” says author Betty Casey. Just take four couples, old or young, put ’em on a good floor, turn on the music, and you’re all set. Whether you’ve done it before or you’re just starting out, this book tells you everything you need to know—85 basic movements used all over the world, the spirited calls unique to square dancing, the costumes and equipment that are best, and music (from “Red River Valley” to “Mack the Knife”) that will set your feet in motion.
Square Dancing Made Easy, Grade level: K-6. Audio CD (September 1, 1995), Number of Discs: 1, Label: Educational Activities, Inc.
All Time Favorite Square Dances with Calls, Audio CD (September 8, 2009), Number of Discs: 1, Label: KADO, Run Time: 60 minutes.
Square Dance Music & Calls, Audio CD (November 21, 2006), Number of Discs: 1, Label: Collectables Records.
I LOVE TRADITIONAL SQUARE DANCE Black Metal Car Accessories License Plate Frame, This high quality license plate frame is made of metal, and it's the best quality item of its kind in the market. The lettering and art work are done by waterproof vinyl on the license plate frame and it will last for many years without any damage. It will not get brittle or cracked. It fits on all USA and Canada vehicles. It measures 12.5" X 6.5" and is durable to last under all weather conditions.
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Brand New High quality preshrunk tee-shirt that will not shrink or fade. Double-needle stitched hemmed sleeves and bottom. Highest quality printing materials. 50% Cotton, 50% Polyester preshrunk blend. Soft, comfortable and weighs 6 oz.
Social Dancing in America: A History and Reference (Volume One), by Ralph G. Giordano. 380 pages. Publisher: Greenwood (November 30, 2006)
Social Dancing in America examines the role of social dancing in daily life from the first settlements in 1607 through the birth of the nation in 1776 and into the beginning of the 21st century. This two-volume set provides a history of American social dances including the Virginia Reel, Square Dancing, the Lindy Hop, Rock 'n' Roll, the Twist, Disco, Breakdancing, and Hip-Hop. Social Dancing in America places social dancing in a historical, social, cultural, and political context.
Volume 1 explores the integral role that social dancing played in the lives of Americans from the first settlements in 1607 through the 19th century, often in the most unlikely of ways. For example, readers may be surprised to learn that George Washington was a well-known aficionado of social dancing, and that he incorporated the etiquette and manners of dances such as the Minuet as a means of diplomacy to secure European allies during the Revolutionary War. After his death, Americans continued to celebrate his birthday with a grand ball that included dancing.
Social Dancing in America: A History and Reference (Volume Two), by Ralph G. Giordano. 428 pages. Publisher: Greenwood (November 30, 2006)
Volume 2 places social dance in a 20th-Century context, illustrating how social dancing itself paralled the social, economic, and cultural traditions of each era. For example, segregation and the Jim Crow mentality was cemented in place all over the United States, and for much of the century, dancing and dance halls were strictly segregated. Segregation forced a mass migration north, and with it came the transformation of Delta Blues music into an American original—Jazz. Jazz gave birth to the Charleston, and later evolved into Swing, which created the Lindy Hop. Later, with the advent of television, programming such as American Bandstand, Soul Train, Dance Fever, and MTV greatly influenced dance styles and modern trends such as Rock 'n' Roll, Freestyle, Disco, Breakdancing, and Hip-Hop.