From the late 1970s, through the eighties, the nineties and even into the 21st century states have been naming the square dance "their" official state dance or folk dance.
In the 1980s, after numerous unsuccessful attempts to declare the square dance the official national folk dance, the United Square Dancers of America, Inc. decided to focus their attention on official designation at the state level. State level organizations were tasked with these efforts. (Read more here.)
In 1988, Oklahoma became the eighth state to name the square dance its official state folk dance when it declared, by Senate Concurrent Resolution, the square dance the "Official State Folk Dance of the State of Oklahoma."
One effective strategy, used by modern state square dance organizations, for gaining state recognition was to couple the legislative effort with an economic benefit to the state. One way this was done was to schedule a national square dance convention in a target state. The economic benefit that was predicted for Oklahoma is well stated in the resolution.
Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 111, declaring the square dance the official state folk dance of Oklahoma was introduced in the Oklahoma Senate by Dave Herbert and sponsored in the House of Representatives by Representative Jeff Hamilton.
STATE OF OKLAHOMA
2nd Session of the 41st Legislature (1988)
By: Hermit of the Senate
Hamilton (Jeff) of the House
A Concurrent Resolution relating to proclaiming the square dance as the official state folk dance.
WHEREAS, square dancing has been a popular form of entertainment since before statehood and modern square dancing as we know it has been flourishing across the State of Oklahoma the mid-40's; and, square dancing is truly the American dance developing in this country as the country itself was progressing and moving west; and
WHEREAS, though the history of square dancing has gone largely unrecorded, it began as it is today a fun folk dance whose ancestry can be traced to four principal sources; the calling and the timing came from the New England Quadrille, the vigor and the fun came from the Kentucky Running Set, several of the steps can be traced to Mexico and many figures can be traced to European Folk Dances; and
WHEREAS, square dancing has been a popular form of entertainment since before statehood and modern square dancing as we know it has been flourishing across the State of Oklahoma the mid-40's; and
WHEREAS, due to the growing popularity of square dancing a state federation was formed in 1947 to encourage and develop the art of square dancing and the members of this group divided the state into nine districts governing the many square dance clubs across the State of Oklahoma; and
WHEREAS, we think of square dancing as a popular local activity, there are square dancing federations in every state in the nation as well as the District of Columbia, Canada, Mexico, Europe and Asia [and] for the past 37 years these dancing enthusiasts have joined together during the National Square Dance Convention; and
WHEREAS, the State of Oklahoma has been fortunate enough to host the National Square Dance Conventions in 1955 and 1978 and will once again proudly host the 38th National Square Dance Convention in 1989; and
WHEREAS, this national convention will be held in the Oklahoma City Myriad Convention Center, will bring over 30,000 participants and visitors to the Great State of Oklahoma and is expected to generate approximately $18 million in revenue for the Oklahoma City area; and
WHEREAS, many Oklahomans have worked long and hard to have the opportunity to bring the National Convention to Oklahoma City next year and play host to so many square dance lovers showing them the fine down-home hospitality for which Oklahoma is well-known and in recognition for their efforts and to show our appreciation for the colorful and exciting entertainment Oklahoma square dancers provide for all Oklahomans we proudly proclaim the Square Dance as Oklahoma's Official State Folk Dance.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE SENATE OF THE 2ND SESSION OF THE 41ST OKLAHOMA LEGISLATURE, THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES CONCURRING THEREIN:
THAT the Oklahoma State Legislature hereby proclaims the Square Dance as the Official State Folk Dance of the State of Oklahoma.
Adopted by the Senate the 15th day of June, 1988.
Adopted by the House of Representatives the 23rd day of June, 1988.
Filed with the Secretary of State June 23, 1988.
The predicted economic benefit to the State of Oklahoma was highlighted in The Bulletin:
For Oklahoma City, folk dancing is no laughing matter. The city will host the 38th National Square Dance Convention in 1989 as part of the state’s centennial celebration, a convention expected to attract 30,000 dancers and generate $18 million in revenue for the Oklahoma City area.
(United Press International, "The Bulletin", 1988, p. B10)
Oklahoma, perhaps the epicenter of the specialty license plate world, will be glad to provide you with a specialty "Square & Round Dancers" plate for $18.00 (2016) with a renewal fee of $16.50.
Senate Joint Resolution No. 111 was approved by the Oklahoma Senate on June 15, 1988. It was approved by the Oklahoma House of Representatives and filed with the Secretary of State on June 23, 1988.
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).
A brief description of the efforts to declare the square dance the national folk dance of the United States of America can be found here.
Because the square dance was designated by Senate Joint Resolution rather than an Act of the Oklahoma Legislature, it is not documented in the Oklahoma Statutes. It is on file in the office of the Secretary of State.
Herbert, Dave, and Jeff Hamilton. "Senate Concurrent Resolution 111." Oklahoma State Legislature. State of Oklahoma. Web. 26 Feb. 2005.
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.
"Special Interest Plates." Motor Vehicle Division of the Oklahoma Tax Commission. State of Oklahoma. Web. 11 Feb. 2016.
United Press International. "Oklahoma Honors Square Dance." The Bulletin. 24 June 1988. Web. 26 Feb. 2005.
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: The Oklahoma Square Dance Federation, Inc.
Official website: Central District Square Dance Association, Inc. (CDSDA)
Official website: Northeast Oklahoma Square Dance Association.
State dances: Complete list of official state dances from NETSTATE.COM
More symbols & emblems: Complete list of official Oklahoma 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 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.
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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.