Don’t Be a Square

For many adults, the phrase “Swing your partner, do-si-do” inspires fluttery stomachs and sweaty palms. At some point, the California public education system decided that the best way to introduce nervous adolescents to the singular joys of handling the opposite sex was through square dancing. Country music and shin-kicking became synonymous with awkward sixth-grade courting rituals. But square dancing has a rich history in the U.S., and is the state dance of no less than 19 states. And it’s not a relic that only 6-year-olds and 60-year-olds participate in. People square dance all over the world. There’s an official organization that accredits callers and holds an annual convention. San Francisco is home to the world’s first GLBT square-dance club. So put on your carefully scuffed vintage cowboy boots on, grab your partner, and mosey over to the “Square Dance Extravaganza.” The Water Tower Bucket Boys claim a myriad of influences — you can even hear elements of punk rock throbbing under those fiddles. And the Striped Pig Stringband is no stranger to the dance hall: the Humboldt County group has kept dancers traipsing across the floor for years. They provide the twang, and Caroline Oakley (who has the distinctive honor of being considered one of Portland’s premier square-dance callers) tells you what to do.
Sat., Feb. 20, 8 p.m., 2010

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