May 2011

Happy May!!!

May always brings to mind spring flowers. As I write this, the trees are just beginning to burst into bloom. Spring is a beautiful time in Washington State. This month I would like to share some random thoughts.

Through the years there have been many conversations and numerous articles written about the image of square dancing. What do people think of when you mention square dancing? Pouffy skirts. Overalls. Fiddle music. Country bumpkins.

Many people in Square Dance Land work tirelessly to overcome this image of square dancing. Square dancers represent all walks of life. There are teachers, doctors, lawyers, businessmen, laborers, secretaries, nurses, young and old people, and everyone in between.

Square dance music producers work hard to have a variety of music available to callers. The range of music today includes the old fiddle tunes but also show tunes, the latest country songs, and current pop hits.

Yet the image of square dancing persists in the public eye. Sometimes I think that we are our own worst enemy. Last month, we talked about advertising and promotion. I mentioned the need to proofread your ads and fliers. When we issue ads or fliers or even club newsletters with misspelled words, we reinforce the country bumpkin image.

Here is a list of some of the most often misspelled words. Now what often happens is that we type the words correctly but then we use our spell check program. The spell check program flags them as misspelled because they are unique to Square Dance Land. You can add them to your spell check dictionary. Be sure you spell them correctly or you will perpetuate the problem.

Round dance leaders are cuers. One round dance leader is a cuer.
Our dance programs are Mainstream, Plus, Advanced and Challenge.
One of the professional organizations for square dance leaders is Callerlab.
The professional organization for round dance leaders is Roundalab.

Also you need to pay attention to correct word usage. How many times have we seen fliers with
their instead of there or your instead of you’re? Too many times to count, I think. If you are not sure which one to use spell it out. An example would be: “you are invited” rather than “your invited.” The second one (your) is the wrong word. Your spell check program won’t catch that it is the wrong word because it is spelled correctly. It just doesn’t say what you want it to.

Then there is that ever-pesky apostrophe. It is virtually never used to form a plural, and it is almost always used to form a possessive. For example, “LOT’s of fun” should be “
LOTS of fun” and “the States 2011 Festival” should be “the State’s 2011 Festival.” (These examples are from the March Footnotes.) Be careful with the word its. With an apostrophe, the contraction it’s means “it is” or “it has.” The possessive pronoun never has an apostrophe, making its similar to his or hers in that respect. An apostrophe is legitimately used to form the plural only of a single lower case letter—as in mind your p’s and q’s—something rarely found in a dance article or flier.

Most of the names of our square dance clubs already end in an
S. Where the name is considered a plural form, the possessive is created by appending the apostrophe to the end, as in “The Dancing Squares’ hoedown was a great success!” (See for more about the apostrophe.)

The challenge this month is to do your part to improve the image of square dancing in your corner of Square Dance Land. Proofread and proofread again before printing your ads, fliers, and newsletters. Now we are all human and make mistakes. Don’t beat yourself up; try to do better next time.

“When our spelling is perfect, it's invisible. But when it's flawed, it prompts strong negative associations.”
– Marilyn vos Savant

Happy dancing,
Susan and Larry

PS. A little something for all you square dancers and gardeners out there...

How to Plant a Square Dance Garden
Author Unknown

First plant four rows of peas: Preparedness, Promptness, Perseverance, Politeness.
Next plant three rows of squash: Squash gossip, Squash criticism, Squash indifference.
Then plant four rows of lettuce: Let us be truthful, Let us be unselfish, Let us be loyal, Let us be thankful.
No garden is complete without turnips: Turn up to volunteer, Turn up with a smile, Turn up with determination.
Let's all get to work on our garden!