State square dance legislation was coming off two banner years as 1996 began. Four states adopted the square dance in 1994 and four, or five, states adopted the square dance in 1995.
The number for 1995 is not certain. The United Square Dancers of America, Inc. (USDA) tell us that South Dakota adopted the square dance in 1995, along with North Dakota. We have, so far, been unable to corroborate this statement.
Regardless of this uncertainty, 1994 and 1995 were both record setting years.... at four, perhaps five for 1995.
For further information and context regarding the coordinated rise of the square dance as an official symbol of each state, we encourage you read this brief article about the campaign for a national folk dance and the strategies employed to accomplish this.
The legislation that led to the designation of the square dance as the "official Georgia folk dance" was introduced to the Georgia General Assembly in 1996.
John and Nancy Feek, chairpersons for American Folk Dance of Georgia, brought the proposal to legislators in Atlanta. They persuaded J. Max Davis to sponsor a bill and guide it through the State House of Representatives. To ensure success of the bill in the Senate, they successfully enlisted the aid of Senator Joseph Burton. But, to coin a phrase, that was the easy part. The future of the measure was unknown.
House Bill No. 1519 (HB1519) was introduced on January 30, 1996 and referred to the House State Planning & Community Affairs for processing.
LC 22 2072
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
To amend Article 3 of Chapter 3 of Title 50 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to state symbols, so as to designate the official folk dance of the State of Georgia; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF GEORGIA:
Article 3 of Chapter 3 of Title 50 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to state symbols, is amended by inserting a new Code section to be designated Code Section 50-3-73 to read as follows:
Square dancing is designated as the official Georgia folk dance."
All laws and parts of laws in conflict with this Act are repealed.
Office of the Clerk of the House
Robert E. Rivers, Jr., Clerk of the House
On February 14th, the committee issued a favorable opinion of the measure which allowed HB1519 to proceed to a vote on the floor of the State House of Representatives.
On February 26, 1996, House Bill No. 1519 was approved in the House by a majority vote; 153 yeas to 12 nays. Now the bill was forwarded to the state Senate where Sen. Burton took the reins.
Following normal protocol, HB1519 was referred to a committee; the Senate Youth, Aging & Human Ecology Committee which issued a favorable report on March 6, 1996.
A majority vote on the floor of the Senate, 48 yeas to 1 nay, sent House Bill No. 1519 off to the governor's desk.
Governor Zell Miller, joined by around twenty enthusiastic square dancers including John and Nancy Feek, signed House Bill No. 1519 on April 8. 1996. Act No. 803, designating the square dance the official folk dance of the State of Georgia went into effect on July 1, 1996.
The square dancers of Georgia succeeded. They fulfilled a pledge and added another state to the list of states which, it was hoped, would ensure a title for the square dance as the official folk dance of the United States of America. With the winning legislation in Georgia, over half of the states had added the square dance to their "official" roster.
In the years since the square dance was anointed in Georgia only two more states, Nebraska (1997) and Louisiana (1999), took the plunge and the Nebraska designation was by a proclamation from the governor.
Since 1996 and through 2015, only a few other states have declared official dances, perhaps in an effort to stave off the powerful lobbying of square dancers; Hawaii, not surprisingly chose the hula. Not one state has honored the square dance in years.
The fervor seems to have subsided.
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).
The following information was excerpted from the Georgia Code Unannotated, Title 50, Chapter 3, Article 3, Section 50-3-73.
TITLE 50. STATE GOVERNMENT
CHAPTER 3. STATE FLAG, SEAL, AND OTHER SYMBOLS
ARTICLE 3. OTHER STATE SYMBOLS
§ 50-3-73. Official folk dance.
§ 50-3-73. Official folk dance.
Square dancing is designated as the official Georgia folk dance.
HISTORY: Code 1981, § 50-3-73, enacted by Ga. L. 1996, p. 662, § 1.
Feek, John, and Nancy Feek. "GEORGIA 29TH STATE TO ADOPT SQUARE DANCE." American Squaredance June 1996: 30. Print.
"GEORGIA 29TH STATE TO ADOPT SQUARE DANCE." American Squaredance July 1996: 44. Print.
"HB 1519 - State Symbols; Designate Square Dancing as Official Folk Dance." Georgia House of Representatives - 1995/1996 Sessions. Georgia State Archives, 2 Jan. 1997. Web. 10 Mar. 2016.
"O.C.G.A. § 50-3-73." Official Code of Georgia. LexisNexis, a Division of Reed Elsevier Inc. Web. 10 Mar. 2016.
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: Georgia State Square Dancers Association, Inc. (GSSDA).
State dances: Complete list of official state dances from NETSTATE.COM
More symbols & emblems: Complete list of official Georgia 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.