Indiana Dancers Association

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How do I get started square dancing?

How much does square dancing cost?

Do I have to wear the typical square dancing clothes?

Can I be a good square dancer if I have no rhythm?

Will I be required to join a club?

What is a typical dance like?

What are the physical and mental benefits from square/round dancing?

How good of a workout is dancing, really?

How do I get started square dancing?

Most clubs and their callers hold square dance lessons at least once a year, and although there are exceptions, most lessons last about 15 to 20 weeks. The easiest way to get information is to follow the "Lessons" link at the top left to find lessons close to you. You can also visit the "IDA Clubs" link to get contact information on the club nearest to your home, and contact the club.

How much does square dancing cost?

Once you have taken lessons, you may visit and dance at any club in the world. Most dances cost about $4 to $6 a person, depending on the type of dance. Many clubs have a pitch-in type meal included in the cost, so you can eat and dance on $8 to $12 dollars a couple.

Do I have to wear the typical square dancing clothes?

Most clubs now days have relaxed their rules on square dance apparel,  however there are still some dances where square dance apparel required. But the typical square dance outfit has changed somewhat in that prairie skirts may be worn instead of the square dance dress with a petty coat. This helps hold the cost of outfits down.

Can I be a good square dancer if I have no rhythm?

Yes. Square dancing does not require that you walk (or step) to the beat of the music. All square dance calls should be completed in a certain amount of steps, but the steps do not have to follow the beat of the music. 

Round dancing does require that dancers have a certain amount of rhythm as the round dances have several rhythms. Typical round dances have two step, waltz, rumba and “cha” rhythms.

Will I be required to join a club?

No, but there are certain benefits to joining a local club. Most clubs provide insurance to members, and membership into the Indiana Dancer Association (IDA). Clubs also arrange car pooling to local dances.

What is a typical dance like?

Most dances consists of 6 tips of square dancing, which consists of a "hash" call and a "singing" call.

The hash call is where the caller moves the dancers around the square in no predetermined way. The dancers job is to execute the moves as the caller calls them and the callers job is to get the dancers back to their original partner, in their original order. Hash calls can be lots of fun because nobody knows what call might come next. The singing call is a little more structured as the calls must be completed in a certain amount of time because the music is set at a certain amount of beats. The singing call is where the caller can really "perform" for the dancers. 

In between the 6 tips, most clubs perform either round dancing, line dancing, or just rest up for the next square dance tip. All clubs encourage visitors to their dances, so a visit to the local club dance would be a great way to see what a dance is like.  

What are the physical and mental benefits from square/round dancing?

       Reprinted from

If you secretly sashay across your living room when you're home alone or long to cha-cha with your significant other, you're in luck. Not only is dancing an exceptional way to let loose and have fun, but it also provides some terrific benefits for your health.

In fact, Mayo Clinic researchers reported that social dancing helps to:

  • Reduce stress
  • Increase energy
  • Improve strength
  • Increase muscle tone and coordination

And whether you like to kick up your heals to hip hop, classical or country, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) says that dancing can:

  • Lower your risk of coronary heart disease
  • Decrease blood pressure
  • Help you manage your weight
  • Strengthen the bones of your legs and hips

Dancing is a unique form of exercise because it provides the heart-healthy benefits of an aerobic exercise while also allowing you to engage in a social activity. This is especially stimulating to the mind, and one 21-year study published in the New England Journal of Medicine even found dancing can reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia in the elderly.

In the study, participants over the age of 75 who engaged in reading, dancing and playing musical instruments and board games once a week had a 7 percent lower risk of dementia compared to those who did not. Those who engaged in these activities at least 11 days a month had a 63 percent lower risk!

Interestingly, dancing was the only physical activity out of 11 in the study that was associated with a lower risk of dementia. Said Joe Verghese, a neurologist at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and a lead researcher of the study, "This is perhaps because dance music engages the dancer's mind."

Verghese says dancing may be a triple benefit for the brain. Not only does the physical aspect of dancing increase blood flow to the brain, but also the social aspect of the activity leads to less stress, depression and loneliness. Further, dancing requires memorizing steps and working with a partner, both of which provide mental challenges that are crucial for brain health.

How Good of a Workout is Dancing, Really?

The amount of benefit you get from dancing depends on, like most exercises, the type of dancing you're doing, how strenuous it is, the duration and your skill level.

Says exercise physiologist Catherine Cram, MS, of Comprehensive Fitness Consulting in Middleton, Wisconsin, "Once someone gets to the point where they're getting their heart rate up, they're actually getting a terrific workout. Dance is a weight-bearing activity, which builds bones. It's also "wonderful" for your upper body and strength."

Plus, dancing requires using muscles that you may not even know you had.

"If you're dancing the foxtrot, you're taking long, sweeping steps backwards. That's very different than walking forward on a treadmill or taking a jog around the neighborhood ... Ballroom dancing works the backs of the thighs and buttock muscles differently from many other types of exercise," says Ken Richards, professional dancer and spokesman for USA Dance, the national governing body of DanceSport (competitive ballroom dancing).

Specific Benefits of Different Dances

If you're looking for specific health results, here's a breakdown of the benefits of some popular dances. Just remember that any type of dancing is better than no dancing at all!

Square Dancing

  • Provides cardiovascular conditioning
  • May lead to a slower heart rate, lower blood pressure and an improved cholesterol profile
  • Strengthens bones
  • Helps you develop strong social ties
  • Loosens and tones muscles

Round (Ballroom Type) Dancing

  • Conditions the body
  • Helps keep the heart in shape
  • Builds and increases stamina
  • Develops the circulatory system
  • Strengthens and tones legs and body
  • Increases flexibility and balance
  • Helps with weight loss
  • Relieves stress

Physical benefits aside, dancing has a way of brightening up a person's day, says ballroom owner and operator Karen Tebeau.

"A lot of times, when people come into the studio, it's because there's been a change in their life: a divorce or they've been through a period of depression. They (continue) coming in, and you see a big change. After a while, they're walking in with a sunny expression. You know it's the dancing that's doing that," she says.

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