Gay square dance

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Gay square dance is square dance as it is generally danced in the Gay and Lesbian community. The first gay and lesbian square dance clubs formed in the mid-to-late 1970s in the USA. There are currently about eighty gay square dance clubs worldwide.[1]

Gay square dance is typically open to all square dancers, regardless of age, race, gender, religion, ethnic background, or sexual orientation. The dancing is generally modern Western square dancing, as it is practiced throughout the world, standardized by Callerlab, the International Association of Square Dance Callers, and as generally practiced by clubs belonging to the International Association of Gay Square Dance Clubs (IAGSDC), the umbrella organization for gay square dance clubs.

In addition to gay modern Western square dance clubs, there are gay and lesbian clubs for other dance forms, both square dance and non-square dance forms, including "traditional" and exhibition-style square dancing.

This article focuses on gay modern Western square dancing, and it is understood to be the same as gay square dancing within this article.


Differences from other clubs

The primary differences between gay square dancing and that practiced in other clubs are:

  • Costuming: Square dance clubs often have a dress code; gay square dance clubs usually are "casual", that is, no costume or special clothing requirement.[2] Shorts and T-shirts are perfectly acceptable. Clubs sponsoring dances advertise the level of costuming expected at their function.
  • Singles more often accepted: Gay square dancing has no partner requirement. In some non-gay square dancing, one is generally expected to arrive at a dance with a partner. At a gay square dance, it is always permissible to get into a square without a partner and hold a hand up if you are looking for one. At non-gay clubs, more people dance with the same partner for the entire evening than at gay clubs where people often dance with a variety of partners throughout a dance.
  • One's dance role is less synonymous with one's actual sex: People more often dance the opposite gender's role than in the general western square dance community. This is known in square dance jargon as "all position dancing" (APD) and is common in upper-level challenge square dancing as well.
  • Styling: Special styling variations (known as flourishes) are particular to gay square dancing (although they may diffuse into the community at large), and there are additional sound effects (dancers' vocal responses to the caller) connected with gay square dancing as well.
  • Energy level: The energy level tends to be higher in gay square dancing[3] – tempos may be higher, more flourishes added, longer dances with shorter breaks.

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