From Daryl Stout@TBOLT to All on Thu Dec 4 00:01:00 2014
A Social Form of Exercise
The physical benefits of square dancing are impressive, to be sure, but
don't discount the social payoff, says Jerry Reed of Coca, Fla.
"The primary benefit [of square dancing] is the social interaction
between people," says Reed, executive director of CALLERLAB, the
international association of square-dance callers, with 2,000 members worldwide.
"Most of the activities that people do these days are individual, such as golfing, tennis, and bowling," he says. "Square dancing is kind of unique
in that it involves touching hands -- we turn, we swing, and that seems to bring us closer together."
And the touching in itself can be beneficial to health, according to
studies conducted at the Touch Research Institute in Miami, which showed
that regular touching can reduce stress and depression and enhance immune system function.
What to Expect
"A typical evening is about two hours long and in that time we dance six 'tips,' " Reed says.
A tip includes a "hash calling" -- where the caller calls out some moves,
which the dancers execute in smooth, choreographed routines -- and a
"singing call," which can include all types of square-dance moves timed
to fit popular songs. On any given evening, dancers will twirl across the
floor to the music of John Denver's "Take Me Home, Country Road," the Bee
Gee's "Stayin' Alive," Donna Summer's "She Works Hard for the Money," as
well as songs by the Beatles and Elvis Presley.
Reed calls about four dances a week. Today's square dancing is hipper than
what most people see in movies, he says, and more therapeutic than you
"It takes your mind off of the day-to-day problems," he says. "All those
other worries and thoughts disappear when you are dancing."
Ready to Sashay Your Way to Fitness?
You say you're tempted, but not sure if you've got what it takes? Don't underestimate yourself, says Reed.
"Square dancing is not as complex as it looks, he says. "We just learn one
move at a time and go from there."
So what's stopping you from joining in all the fun? Square dance clubs are popping up all across the world, and they want you. Ask at your local
community center or check your local Yellow Pages for information on
square dancing clubs and events in your neighborhood.