Resolution #3 Discussion

Resolution #3 – Social Square Dancing

The Board of Governors endorse this resolution.

All voting members received an email with the resolution and a link to provide feedback.

Discussion for Resolution #3  is now closed.  The Pro  and Con summaries are below.  The most recent comments appear at the top.

If you have any questions, please contact the Home Office.


Pro Comments

Joe Dehn – Sunnyvale, California United States

My comments on some of the objections: *** (1) That SSD dancers won’t be able to dance “everywhere”: That’s already true for Mainstream-only dancers when they visit many areas, and for Basic-only dancers almost everywhere. This is NOT a new issue unique to SSD. *** (2) That there isn’t a published list: That’s easy to fix, many of us have already made such a list, and the wording of the updated Program Policy Statement makes clear that it will be the responsibility of the SSD Committee to create an official one. *** (3) That it is called an “entry program”: To me this just means that it is a program with which a new dancer can START, because it is possible to learn it without previous experience. And a “destination program” is one where a dancer can STOP, because it is complete enough and offers enough dancing opportunities. So “stand-alone program” just means a program that is BOTH an entry AND a destination program! (But note that whether a program is any of these depends on how it actually ends up being USED, not how we label it. Basic, Mainstream, and Plus are all in fact “entry” programs in various places. Basic is not a destination program in most of the world, but all the rest are in many places.) *** (4) That it would be better to replace Basic and Mainstream: Possibly — but we can’t be sure of that yet and dropping those now would be way too disruptive. Let’s give SSD a chance to prove itself, and then we can decide that later.

Dottie Welch – Halifax area, Nova Scotia Canada

Callerlab has been searching for some way to reverse the declining number of square dancers and we seem to agree that we need a shorter and more attractive procedure for “catching and keeping” new dancers.     SSD has worked very hard to create a structure with the aim of frequent 12-week classes that lead to destination club dances enhanced by some variation workshops. The SSD committee has been insisting that they need to be officially designated as a Program to make it easier to promote their structure.      Callerlab has been using “Program” to refer to “a list of calls, and their respective call definitions and usage rules.” The elaborate SSD structure is much more than that and it does not intend to fit into the current Program structure. How do we deal with this impasse? Maybe we need to broaden our perspective regarding the term “Program” and allow it to encompass more possibilities.       I will vote in favor of this proposal in hopes that this will be a positive step towards a more flexible and inclusive future. As long as we maintain a single consistent set of definitions, I think we can find ways to adjust and accommodate dancers who want to move into the more complex Programs from various kinds of previous dance experience. Also, for special events we can find a common denominator.

Joseph Valvo – Las Vegas, Nevada United States

I am for this new entry program with all its flaws. I think it is a good first start and hopefully over time with some tweaking it can become THE entry level program. Just some things to think about going forward, we all know that the activity is in desperate need of boasting participation while at the same time maintaining what we have. First, we need to recognize that the Plus Level is the star of the show. To continue to moan that dancer are moving up to fast is to deny Plus is King. That means dancers are going to gravitate to it. We should not mess with that level because it is easy to teach in a short period of time. The two hardest levels to teach and maintain dancers are Beginner and C1. I make this comparison to emphasize how difficult we have made our entry level program.  Every caller should look at our beginner level and identify what calls He or She could do without and still make it fun to learn. You will probably would come close to SSD proposal and realize it is time to just retire some calls.

Mike Seastrom – Tarzana, California United States

I am strongly in favor of making Social Square Dancing a recognized CALLERLAB Program and here is why.   We voted over 10 years ago to open the CALLERLAB Program policy and look for an easier and better way to bring dancers into our activity.         At that time and in Pre-Covid times our methods of bringing new dancers into our activity and clubs was failing and we were continuing to shrink.  The CALLERLAB Board of Governors and the Past Chairman’s Committee voted to condense the years of experiments (i.e. 12 Week, ABC, Club 50, and 51) into one program that we could get behind as an organization several years ago. Social Square Dancing (SSD) is finally that program that has taken years of research and experiments to develop. It works!       Our Basic Program was always meant to be the Entry Program and could be taught more than once a year. Unfortunately, it never caught on in North America. No one wanted to just be a Basic dancer. Not enough dancers wanted to be Mainstream for very long, and Plus takes too long to learn and has proven to be an unsuccessful entry program for years.        SSD can be our entry program and a destination program, can be taught 2 to 4 times a year, and can open our doors to new dancers like we haven’t seen in over 50 years.          We have never had an opportunity to “reboot” our activity like we have now. Please VOTE to make this an official CALLERLAB Program, promote the amazing “social” benefits of our dance, and grow our activity again. Our world needs a social activity as good as ours more than ever now.         Once it’s a Program we can transition it into our own areas, so it works best for each area, make changes to it as necessary, and help our dance activity continue to evolve as it has always done. Vote “Yes” on this resolution and let’s open our doors more than once a year!

Buddy Weaver – San Diego, CA United States

I was not in favor of SSD when I first learned of but my mind was changed when I called the Illinois State Festival a couple of years ago.  First-hand experience of the success of SSD in the metropolitan Chicago area that translated to a large number of dancers whose average age was about 10 years less than the average MS/Plus dancer.  The SSD hall was high-energy.  Dancers who have mastered the 50 basics because they could and had a high-flying time dancing without stop/go or breakdowns.      In my own Southern California club – the largest in the area – SSD has been voted as the club destination for the next three years.  This is a Plus area that is accepting SSD for the positive effects it has on MWSD in other Metro areas AND the anticipated growth for us.      I encourage you to bravely embrace change – one that will not only save square dancing, post pandemic, but also give us the tool for lasting growth that we have been missing for nearly four decades.

Mike Wright – Concord, CA United States

I am in agreement that we need a swifter way to get new dancers engaged into square dancing.  I was just starting to test the SSD program with our club when we were interupted by COVID.  The dancers were progressing nicely and at the time my only concern was will they be able to dance this program at other dances.  This is very important as we move forward.  We need to insure that our dancers have a place to enjoy what they have learned.  One of the best things about square dancing is the people you meet as you attend hoedowns and weekend festivals.  If we are resolved to include SSD as a dance program, then we need to make sure that there is a place for them to enjoy the benefits of their time and energy.  I believe with the support of Callerlab this goal is attainable.  Lets use this program to help increase our numbers and help square dancing become more vibrant.

Kurt Gollhardt – Union City, CA United States

Anything new will always require a transition. Just because there are fewer places now to dance SSD is not a reason to kill it. More opportunities will be created over time as it becomes more successful. It will be easy for festivals/conventions to provide SSD dancing *if they choose to*; it can split with or combined with MS, since it will be fun dancing for MS dancers, too; most MS dancers won’t even notice the difference. For the small percentage of newer dancers who are ambitious enough and confident enough to attend an out-of-area event, you can give them a blast class to bring them up to MS if there still aren’t enough events with SSD. And is this really any different than today? There are those that argue that we don’t need SSD because we already have Basic; how many festivals & conventions have Basic halls? Almost none. In some areas, they don’t even have MS. Some events only have Advanced or Challenge dancing. There will always be some events you can dance at and some you can’t.

Barry Clasper – NORTH YORK, Ontario Canada

For the past several years, CALLERLAB has encouraged experimentation with lesson systems.  SSD first emerged as one of these.  It has spread widely and gained a great deal of traction. A great deal of supporting material has been developed and is easily available. Over the same period it has become clear that one of our major problems is that our current offerings, as implemented in many places, present a very long learning period before new dancers can dance on a regular basis in their area.  We have realized the need for a program that can be quickly taught, permits multiple new dancer intakes each year, and yet provides a dance offering robust enough to retain new dancers without the necessity of continuous learning of new calls. SSD provides that. It can be used as a stand-alone program that sits somewhere between the Community Dance program, which is geared to single-night events for non dancers, and the current progressive programs that cater to years of continuous learning. On the other hand, SSD-trained dancers who decide the progressive programs look more appealing can easily move into them because what they’ve learned is a subset of Mainstream.  Approving this resolution does not require anybody to change that doesn’t want to.

Mike Gormley – Sebring, FL United States

This concept hurts no one.   It is “stand alone”.   It deserves the support.   What we have been doing for 30 years has had downward trending results.

Hal Barnes – Howard, Colorado United States

Why is SSD Special? –We all want to get new people dancing more quickly which implies fewer calls.  But we must have the support of existing MS clubs who will not drop to Basic level clubs.  SSD hits that sweet spot, including enough MS calls to gain the support of the MS clubs while reducing the number of calls to get new dancers on board more quickly.      Stand-Alone Vs Alternate Entry Level –  Community Dance is inherently a stand-alone program because its variety of dancing does not fit into the progression.   SSD is composed entirely of calls from Basic and MS, so it is inherently a part of the progression programs.    These are mutually exclusive.  If a club chooses SSD as a final destination, that is their option, but that option does not make SSD a stand-alone program.    Implications of Adopting SSD:  –              Two Plus Lesson – We will need Plus for MS Dancers and Plus for SSD Dancers.  This proposal fails to show how SSD dovetails with the other programs.  –              Definition Control – Control should stay with existing committees with comments from others.    –           Convention Programming Issues – State and National Conventions cannot ignore an official CALLERLAB program which would exclude the SSD dancers from coming.  This adds programming challenges.    Supporting Regional Clubs –The Colorado State council is leading the discussion of adopting SSD.  The lack of it being a recognized CALLERLAB program is a big hurdle.  Adopting the resolution helps those who want to try it without much impact to those who don’t.    I support this proposal even though it is seriously flawed, because I see the excitement from our Colorado clubs about the benefits of shorter classes while keeping existing dancers.  I hope the flaws will be addressed once SSD is in the CALLERLAB family.

Bill Varley – Montgomery, Texas United States

I think SSD is a good idea and that it has been defined well by the Committee.  I would vote for SSD to be a designated dance program of Callerlab, to be used either as an end in itself, for new dancers, or as a basis to learn the remaining calls on the Basic and Mainstream lists.  I recommend that new dancers who complete SSD be told that this program may not sufficiently prepare them to dance Mainstream tips at many open dances.  Dancers who learn only SSD may be confined in their dancing to the host clubs.  New dancers should be encouraged to learn the other calls of the Basic and Mainstream programs.

Wendy VanderMeulen – St-Albert (Ottawa), Ontario Canada

Although I am commenting on the “pro” side, I’m not sure that I am 100% Pro.  Maybe that’s good enough.  FIrst of all, I thought SSD was being promoted as a DESTINATION program, not entry-level, and there is a big difference, IMHO.  By calling it DESTINATION, dancers can learn that program and then JUST DANCE there for as long as they want.  And I’m pretty sure that’s what Jerry Story envisioned this program as being.  Entry-level implies they aren’t done at the end of that program; there’s still more to learn.  Also, I agree with several Pro commenters who suggested that SSD should replace B/MS, move the unused B/MS calls to Plus, and have 2 programs instead of 3.  AND then SSD can be called Mainstream.  All that to say that I’m okay with voting YAY for it, as that means areas arond the world who want to use it can continue to do that. And then we will eventually get changes as suggested.

Steven Turner – Perth, West Australia Australia

The SSD has my 100% support. The activity has been hit with the biggest blow that we have ever experienced. The SSD is exactly what we need to kick start again and this new approach is it!  I have been calling the SSD at my Mainstream clubs for over 12 months now and I believe our dancers would not realise or felt any differences.    There is a saying attached to the SSD and it’s   “lower the bar for dancers, raise the bar for callers” and yes it does take practice and study to deliver an enjoyable 50 move level that will keep our existing Mainstream dancers entertained.   Callers that have concerns about introducing the SSD Destination level, at least try using the SSD teaching order first at your next beginners class. Nothing lost, nothing gained.   It will at least give you a better understanding of how it works and then hopefully we will have your support.   Steve Turner  Australia

Kurt Gollhardt – Union City, CA United States

As an *alternate* program, you will not be required to do anything with SSD if you don’t want to, but please don’t prevent people who do see value in it *for their area* from giving it a try. I’ve heard too many times: “SSD sounds good, but we can’t use it if it’s not a CALLERLAB program.” In areas where MWSD continues to dwindle, it’s critical for us to try something new.    Yes, the resolution isn’t worded perfectly and doesn’t cover all the details of how the committees will interact, but those are details that can be worked out later.    Yes, SSD doesn’t address all of our problems, but it can help with some. People are more willing to sign up for shorter classes. By converting students to dancers more quickly, you also retain more. You can run 2 or 3 classes a year, so you don’t lose prospects by making them wait up to a year.    Enthusiastic new graduates can bring friends to the next new class within a few weeks. That’s how SSD groups have attained significant growth in a short period, and retained them by focusing on people who would rather just dance than keep learning more and more. Other programs are available for those who enjoy learning and continuing to challenge themselves.    Yes, you could use the same approach with Basic, but the SSD call list is specifically tailored to fit more variety of fun, flowing dancing into a short, easy to learn, class, with enough variety to keep people interested for an extended period, to help resist the rush up the “ladder”.

Susie Kelly – Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire England

There is a lot of interest in the UK  in using the SSD and bearing in mind the steep decline of both dancers and callers  in the UK I feel the use of this program would bring back the social and fun aspect of the Activity  which may be mssing in the general rush to Plus.   Several older people in the UK have started to learn to call and this program may help them to succeed  without having to invest too much time in learning the too technical side of calling perceived to be essential in  the regular  Callers Training regime.

Joe Dehn – Sunnyvale, California United States

I want to thank those who are presenting this resolution for addressing my concerns about how it had been presented earlier, to just “add” SSD to the Program Policy Statement without spelling out the actual amendment, which made me very reluctant to consider voting for it. The wording now makes clear that the existing programs still have the same relationship to each other, while leaving somewhat ambiguous the actual role of SSD. I think that’s fine, because the ACTUAL role that SSD will play in the future of square dancing is NOT something that can be “legislated”. No amount of labeling something a “destination” will make it so. That future role will be determined by the people actually using SSD and how popular it becomes because of what THEY do with it. If Mainstream or SSD is the better vehicle for providing a popular destination level is something that is best determined by the market. I look forward to seeing proponents of each try their best to demonstrate their respective strengths — and this wording allows for that. I plan to vote in favor because I don’t see any real downside. If SSD becomes so successful that, in addition to its main purpose, it is where most of the smaller number of people who want to learn Plus and the rest get started, that will present no problem for those who want to call and teach Plus and the rest. And if it never becomes as popular as Mainstream, we will not be any worse off than we are now. I don’t see what we have to lose.

Victor Diller – Apple Valley, MN United States

No comment. I am totally in favor of the resolution.

Jeffrey Garbutt – Bunbury, Western Australia Australia

Over the last 45 years square dancing has changed from a fun and sociable dance form where everyone could meet and dance. The mix of dancers, (at a guess), was probably 50% social and 50% serious hobbyiest . Over the years we have seen introduction of several programs which created an elevator system that encouraged dancers to progress up levels. This made square dancing more attractive to “serioue hobyiest” and less attractive to social dancers. Social dancers slowly faeded away. SSD offers a “go to” place for “social dancers”. SSD does not require or need an elevator system. SSD only requires dancers, and the dancers only need clubs, venues,  weekend events, festivals etc where they can meet and dance with other SSD dancers. It is not a threat to other programs.

Ken Ritucci – West springfield, MA United States

I am in support of this Resolution. I am well aware that in some parts of the world our existing Basic Program works quite well. However, in many parts of the world, especially in the United States, it does not work well in regards to being a Destination Program for dancers and clubs to stop at and dance. SSD has all the workings of a Stand Alone Program that has the ability to lead to multiple opportunities for Beginner Lessons throughout the year. It is designed to bring new dancers into our activity in a quicker fashion. SSD should not be viewed as a threat to any of the existing Programs. Mainstream Dancers can dance the SSD Program should they choose. This potential new program will create more opportunities for dancers, clubs and callers to dance and call at. I would say if this is something you are not interested, then don’t use the Program should it become official. I see nothing but an upside to having this as an official CALLERLAB Program.

Dennis Farrar – Sun City West AZ, United States  

I’ve been using the SSD program here in Sun City (Phoenix area) for about 4 years now. We don’t have huge crowds (yet) but we are consistent and maintaining. We have a lot of happy smiling dancers. I don’t know when we will be able to go back due to Covid restrictions, but I’m hoping by this fall. Keep’em smiling, and happy dancing to all.

Noah Siegmann – Watertown, WI United States 

This resolution has been a long time coming.    Jerry Story and so many others brainstormed and worked tirelessly for years to see the concept of SSD accepted and implemented, so it is exciting to finally get to vote on it.     I am a strong supporter of this proposed program, and only accepted the role of Chairman of the SSD committee because I believe it is a worthy cause to get behind and I will not see all of Jerry’s blood, sweat & tears wasted.     This is a good thing for our entire activity.     I am not going to go through all of the reasons it is a special & worthwhile idea, since much of that has been discussed at great length on many different forums over the past several years leading up to this.     My only request: Even if you aren’t a strong supporter of SSD or don’t plan on using it for your own clubs and areas, I still ask you to vote yes, since the passing of this resolution will not alter or affect any existing level of Square dancing in any way.  If it fails, no harm done. If it succeeds wonderfully, we ALL win!     Thank you for reading, and thank you for your vote on this “perfect storm” of Social Square Dancing.     Sincerely,    Noah Siegmann    Chairman, Social Square Dancing committee

Terry J Harrison – Council Bluffs, IA  United States

I truly believe we could use this to help revitalize our activity to bring older dancers back that feel they have forgotten some calls. To come back to dancing feeling more comfortable would be a benefit to them. To get them on the floor dancing comfortably would be great for other dancers as their experience would be beneficial and they in turn would encourage other people to join the activity.  An old saying from yesteryear “yah gotten hook em don’t lose em.” I personally like being able to start more than one class year. It only lets new students to come in without being told wait until next year. For feasibility I run three sessions per night 5-7 Standard Applications, 7-9 Extended Applications and 9-10:30 Dance. My regular club members enjoy this tremendously. They pay one fee and can dance all three if they wish.  We are in our fourth year! Try it we need the help to get out of the rut of the Pandemic.

Bear Miller – Denver, CO United States

I am in full support of the SSD Program. It gives us a chance to recover from the pandemic with a viable, marketable product. We are long overdue to embrace this as we have been declining for years. Even in parts of the world still adhering to the drawn out class structure are creating excellent dancers, but their numbers are declining as well.  We have other experimental condensed programs out there but this one is served up on a Silver Platter. Not only a syllabus for teaching, but complete with modules, singing call figures as you go.  I believe our product needs to get out of class mode and into dance mode sooner. That is when our biggest positive shines most, SOCIABILITY.    Change is hard,please vote for our future! Thanks

Stephen J Cole – Kirkland, WA USA

SSD is what the Basic program should become.    I would like to see the motion amended to include a second program that is a combination of the remaining Mainstream calls and the Plus program.    SSD *is* a destination.    My suggestion is only to integrate it with the existing system.  It doesn’t have to be done today, this week, or even this year.

Jack Pladdys – Indian Springs, OH USA

I am 100% for SSD.  I am against it being an experimental or alternate program.  It needs to be the entry level for our activity replacing Basic and Mainstream.  The B and MS committees should take charge of SSD by combining the two committees and adopting the SSD list.  Then the Plus committee can refine (nice way of saying shorten) the current list and decide what calls to pick up………..of course this would be in a perfect world.  Unfortunately, and some may argue, in a realistic (pre-COVID) world, I still see several very successful groups, weekend events, and conventions using our current structure.  It’s going to be very difficult to get these groups to change, or back down from being called “Plus Dancers”, which ultimately will still fester the desire for new dancers to climb the level ladder.  We saw this many years ago when we combined P1 & P2.  Nobody backed down to Mainstream, which I believe we had expected.  So, I would like to see our structure as SSD and Plus.  Nothing in between.  It may take some time to fully implement, but a whole lot less time if we make SSD an alternate or experimental program.

Phil Rarick – Montegomery, Illinois United States

I wish there was a third option concerning how I feel about this resolution – “Pro with concerns”. My concern is with SSD as a destination level and I don’t really disagree with that either.  If it means that once a student completes SSD classes, there are plenty of opportunities to dance at SSD, I strongly agree. But I also feel the same about Mainstream. All new dancers should spend time at either of these “destination” levels to develop a strong foundation before considering experiencing more of what MWSD offers.  As I see it, providing plenty of opportunities to dance SSD (or Mainstream) is a cultural issue, not a program issue. As such, and understanding that our activity is dynamic, should we not offer some leadership that encourages higher-level entities to support SSD in the interest of sustainability? In other words, I’m concerned that SSD may follow the same path as Mainstream if strategies are not discussed that address the cultural forces that impacted Mainstream as a destination.  BTW I have heard some strong SSD advocates indicate it should not be part of MWSD and new dancers should not be exposed to other program/levels at all.

Michael Sikorsky – Apache Junction, AZ United States

SSD has been road tested a lot with great success.  At the NSDC in Jackson I will be presenting pro comments about SSD.  I will also offer suggestions as to how to implement this program.

Rick Hampton – Visalia, CA United States

SSD is not perfect, but it is our best chance of any form of square dancing (non-traditional) to survive.        Even before covid, MWSD was losing dancers at alarming rates, due to many things, New dancers being shoved into club chores and offices , some (many?) disliked dress requirements, many were turned off by club politics , cliques and so many more downers that we as a group have zero control over. As individual callers, you need to lead and stifle these truly destructive dance and club/association habits.        What we do have , as a group, the opportunity to “catch” many of the 70-80 percent of new dancers we lose.         We MUST offer a new path to square dancing, Not the MS/Plus that our cult, uh , serious hobbyist dancers “crave.       SSD offers that path, it is up to us as a group (Callerlab) to adopt it, and up to EACH CALLER to keep the downers (above) from losing thousands more dancers in the US.        IF YOUR BASIC (unlikely in US) MAINSTREAM CLASSES ARE WORKING- Great keep if up but when voting, THINK BIGGER.  Help the huge number of areas failing by voting to affirm SSD.  (and PLEASE REALIZE ) It is a concept first, not a new gospel, You wish 45 calls and 10 weeks -DO IT , You really want 8 chain thru for singing calls you have owned – GO FOR IT. Just do not continue to enable the loss of thousands, shall we keep them?  UP TO YOU  Rick

Mike Goff – Kaiserslautern, rheinland pfalz Germany

I have absolutely no problem adding this as an official alternative.

Jeffrey Garbutt – Bunbury, Western Australia Australia

Over the last 45 years square dancing has changed from a fun and sociable dance form where everyone could meet and dance. The mix of dancers, (at a guess), was probably 50% social and 50% serious hobbyiest . Over the years we have seen introduction of several programs which created an elevator system that encouraged dancers to progress up levels. This made square dancing more attractive to “serioue hobyiest” and less attractive to social dancers. Social dancers slowly faeded away. SSD offers a “go to” place for “social dancers”. SSD does not require or need an elevator system. SSD only requires dancers, and the dancers only need clubs, venues,  weekend events, festivals etc where they can meet and dance with other SSD dancers. It is not a threat to other programs.

Mel Wilkerson – Tumut, NSW Australia

My only comment is to stop referring to it as an “ALTERNATE” Entry Level program.    That keeps teh inference that it is an alternate way to get into the other square dance programs.        It is a stand alone square dance program that, while uses many of the movments on the basic and mainstream list, does not in any way interfere with those lists.    It is not a prograpm designed to make an alternate entry into square dance clubs and fast track nto dancing.   That is not what the program was designed for but by always saying an “alternate entry”  and refer to Basic as an Entry level program gives a wrong impression  – regardless of how many times you try to clarify it.    SSD is offerred as a recognised stand alone program  for the promotion of social square dancing without program faux status qualifications.    It is a program that is easy to learn, does not take much time, and is varied enough to provide good interest, variety and a dance expereince in a social atmosphere without riding an excallator to the next “perceived level of quality” in program name only.    It is NOT/NOT an alternate entry program.   It is a complete program.  Alternate entry also implies that it goes somewhere else….it is a complete program…not an entry or a destination…it is a complete program.    I think I have said that enough.

Larry Kanniard, Sr. – Wyoming, Delaware United States

I believe this will give us an additional tool to recruit new dancers in light of the current pandemic.

Charles Trapp – Halifax, MA United States

as long as this doesn’t effect current program and has proven a help. I am ok with it. I do believe the problem is still marketing in trying to get new people into our activity. this needs work.

Wes Thielke – Hillsborough, NJ United States

The Callers Council of New Jersey ( CCNJ) has had a discussion of this. We came to the same conclusion, that SSD could only succeed as a stand-alone destination program. Unfortunately, none of the existing clubs or associations in our area support taking it on themselves, so the only way it would ever happen here, is as caller-run initiatives. It is not clear whether any of the callers in our association would consider taking that on. Part of our discussion included a comparison to Contra Dancing in our area, which continues to be successful. The main difference is that no classes are required. Approximately 20 percent of dancers at any given dance are completely new and are taught what they need at the dance.

Richard Sbardella – Stafford Springs, CT United States

I fully support the SSD program as an OPTIONAL, alternate destination program.  For 30 years, I have watched the dance population decline.  In those 30 years very little has been done to significantly change our approach.  In fact, if anything has been done in those 30 years, we have made dance less accessible by increasing the level of difficulty.  This  satisfies our existing dancer base, and it satisfies our callers, but it pushes recruits out either during classes, or soon after graduation.  Dancers are now required to dance quite often to maintain proficiency, and today’s culture does not necessarily support that type of commitment.      SSD is the most serious effort at addressing this problem.  Requiring only 12-14 lessons is a big plus, but more importantly, dancers can maintain proficiency while attending fewer dances after graduation.  Most of the attraction of Square Dance remains with a less puzzle, and a little less difficulty.  One big advantage of this proposal is that no one has to change what they are doing.  SSD is OPTIOAL.  Clubs can remain MS or Plus, and Festivals can remain unchanged.  If SSD further proves itself, then those Clubs and Festivals may opt in.      I beg you for the sake of our activity to give SSD a chance.  It already has strong impetus, but if Callerlab formalizes the program, it will be a BIG shot in the arm.  If we do nothing, nothing will change.  Next year’s number will be worse than last year’s.  I see SSD as one of the last opportunities for Callerlab to acknowledge the problem and to craft a reasonable solution.  Please join me in support of SSD.

Steve Kopman – Knoxville, TN United States

Great idea to make it quicker for new dancers to jump into a square dance club or weekend after just a few months of learning.    Much needed level fir dancers to enjoy.

Jon Jones – Arlington, TX United States

SSD is a VERY valuable Program to get new dancers into the activity sooner and get them into the club to have a great time and to socialize with the club members.  With the club that Deborah and I teach for, it has grown 150% in three years by using the SSD program. We look forward to gaining many more new dancers this coming fall season.  It is also a great program to get the existing dancers back in the dancing mood.

Kip Garvey – Ione, CA United States

Enough members believe this new program is needed and is a program they will support. This is enough for me to endorse acceptance of the SSD dance program and have it officially added to our collection of official dance programs. Those who feel this new dance program is unnecessary are casting an exclusionary objection that is not defensible because they have other options available to them to use if they so choose. It has never been the purpose of CALLERLAB to be exclusionary in any way and now is not the time to start. This proposed new program offers huge potential toward rebuilding the activity and I continue to support it.

Don Wood – Lacey, WA United States

I believe SSD can be the recovery Square Dancing so desperately needs after a long term of decline and also COVID 19.  My only negative is there is yet another program. I am in favor of dropping Basic and MS from the approved lists, moving these calls to Plus and have a single entry list called Square Dancing.    Respectfully  Don Wood

Barry Johnson – Lake in the Hills, IL United States

While the notion of an alternate entry program may be distasteful to some, it avoids forcing change upon those groups that are have no desire to change.  Over time, should the SSD concept ultimately prove popular, the difference can be reconciled.     The alternative, NOT adopting the resolution, is essentially a vote to delay releasing any positive actions for a year or more.  With significant pandemic-related losses in our dancer population, the matter has become more urgent than ever before.    We should not wait to take action.  Please support the resolution, even if you don’t plan to use the SSD program.

Paul Waters – Valley Village, California United States

While I would prefer SSD replace Basic and Mainstream, I see this resolution as  acceptable and support its adoption.

Con Comments

Rem Remington – Lynnwood, WA United States

I think SSD as a program should be rejected.  Callerlab was founded on the premise of trying to put forth a standardization where I as a dancer could travel to other clubs and be able to function. In my long square dance lifetime, I have seen that happen with success!      Then along came the “California List,” similar concept to SSD, and those dancers traveling to my state/area cannot function comfortably at our Callerlab defined dances because they are missing moves in their repertoire. For our ‘customers’ the dancers, this is just not right. It is awkward and embarrassing.     I have heard from fellow callers who when traveling were invited to the stage of those clubs who have the shortened list, and dropped the floors because of the non-standard movement lists they had to try and work-around. Additionally, when trying to use the full value of a call with an interesting or clever intent, again the they dropped the floor because of the dumbing-down of the experience of the dancers.    We need to hold-on to the reason Callerlab began and the success it has had in making Square Dancing worldwide. This resolution will, by its very obvious nature, divide the function of the standardization we currently enjoy. I think SSD can live with the   Community Dance and other tools in the tool-box, but should NOT be a program where our committees will have their workload multiplied having to reconcile conflicting lists.     SSD will NOT cure the lack of dancers, new or experienced. That takes giving the customer a consistent product that is fun while doing the process.  Artificially shortened deadlines mandated by some clubs are a detriment to our activity. If we provide a teaching dance that is more dance than teach, we are back to where we were when in the hey-day. Secondly, successful clubs need people who are enthused about the activity. Again, when a dance is provided each night, and you learn something along the way, I observe that our groups up here do well.    Lastly, I am involved in planning our state’s annual convention. Adding another room for SSD, where only the SSD folks can dance??? That’s isolating the very people we want to embrace! I would think it would be very awkward to be an SSD dancer and not be able to function in the other halls. Doing a basic 48 hall is just starting to get going around here where they are included in the community, knowing they will be able to progress in time. SSD dancers? In a few years, which program will be right? Automatic dissension. We do not need that!    We can do better than this divisive resolution. I say reject SSD.

Peter Höfelmeyer – Kiel, Schleswig-Holstein Germany

I love the idea to entertain new dancers. I’m in favor to create new groups and offer good dancing , fun, socializing. Who can create this? Only humans can create this. If one have the competences, she/he can make it with the existing lists. If not, a new list does not help.     It is up to us to sell our One-Program-Square-Dance-Club as destination and as a new home and the new place for dance, fun and friendship. But I can’t see no reason how this does not work with the existing Basic/Mainstream list.     If you have no Mainstream club in your area, then start one. Don’t sell a class as a necessary evil. Already the first night is square dance. Teach dancing, styling and fun and so the dancers miss anything. Don’t we want to inspire dancers for years to come?  So I personally can’t understand why it should be so important to shorten the class time. For me this already is a signal to rush through something.

Geoff Clarke – Carleton Place, Ontario Canada

In my opinion, the development of the SSD program (along with other programs such as Club 50) was the result of (as I understand it) a USA-based problem created by the ‘rush to Plus’ phenomenon, and the subsequent dancer retention issue. In my reading of many comments on the SSD topic, that problem does not exist in many other parts of the world, including where I am in Canada. Contrary to some opinions, we do have BASIC clubs here in our region which operate very successfully & do retain many of their new dancers.    If a club wants to adopt SSD (or Club 50 etc.) as it’s dance program to recruit new dancers &/or ‘just dance’, that’s great, it has every right to do so – using a program ‘other’ than those of CALLERLAB.     However, having SSD as an “Alternate Entry Level” program puts it in direct opposition to our already existing BASIC program, which IS the current ‘Entry Level’, in many other parts of the world.     I can’t see both SSD & BASIC continuing to co-exist because SSD is ‘Basic + a bit of Mainstream’ – I think it’s either one or the other (BASIC vs SSD). My concern in having both will create the need for clubs/callers to “chose” which one to use, thus creating potential conflict which we certainly don’t need! In my experience, the BASIC program as an ‘entry level’ has served well and I don’t see a need to ‘drop it’ in favour of SSD, or having SSD as an ‘alternate’.    It’s taken many, many years for CALLERLAB to develop the existing programs in order to create the “International” portability of our activity, so adding SSD into the program mix will, I think, negate the portability of the CALLERLAB program (Basic in particular) and turn us back to a time when dancers could only dance with ‘their’ club, and no other. I think we need/want to move this activity forward & not backward.     Thus, I’m opposed to this resolution.

Kaz Tsujimura – Kawaguchi, Saitama Japan

SSD is one way to enjoy square dancing, and it feels strange to use it as one of the conventional programs such as Basic and MS.  Instead of making SSD a dance program  I think it’s better to establish it as a way to enjoy dancing.

Kevin Lovell – Milton Keynes, Bucks UK

I fully support the use of SSD for beginners. Having used a modified Condensed Teaching Order for some time, I have seen the benefits of a shortened teaching program.  However, for the reasons clearly stated by Michael Maltenfort, having it sit beside the existing programs, using the same moves, as an alternative official program, leads to issues regarding control of a shared move’s definitions and will split the activity at the beginner level.  I would happily support the use of SSD as a replacement for Basic, stressing that it is a valid destination.  Though, for those that wish to do so, there must also be a way to learn the extended application uses and the remaining moves in a modified Mainstream program.  It certainly helps to have an approved condensed list of moves that would allow dancers from SSD clubs and beginner classes get together for social open dances but there are too many yet to be resolved issues to make it a parallel program.

Edward “Ed” Evans – Port Orchard, Washington United States

It is my recommendation to stay with the CALLERLAB programs!!  As Square Dance Caller/Teacher for 48 years, it has been MY responsibility to introduce/teach/and build confidence with experienced or new dancers.  Most of the dancers will return to the dance floor, and our responsibility will be to guide them into a comfort zone.  Another program is NOTessential.  Callers should consider each session as an “Introduction to Square Dancing” or a review for a majority of the dancers.  If we focus on building “confidence & smoothness” with the dancers by starting with the Basic Program, we will have accomplished our role as a Caller/Teacher.  Even with some restrictions, I am looking forward to supporting the dancers and recruiting new ones.

Glenn Raiha – Olympia, WA United States

Before any member votes on this issue I suggest you take a Callerlab Basic/Mainstream list and do a side-by-side comparison with the SSD 12 week Lesson Plan.  In doing so you will notice that there are ELEVEN  moves on our current Basic/Mainstream list that do not appear on the SSD Teaching Plan.  Where are those moves taught to the new dancers so they are able to dance anywhere?    If you believe that our dancers should be able to dance anywhere using the Callerlab Basic/MS list then you eliminate dancers taught using the SSD Program  from dancing anywhere.  Are we going to add a “SSD Hall” at all our State and National Conventions?  We would have to since SSD graduates would not have been taught eleven movements of our current MS Program.    I do not agree that adding another Program would be beneficial to any of us facing the challenges of “restarting” our activity “post pandemic”.  Let’s work with what we have right now and not make any changes that add to the confusion.  Our current Basic/Mainstream Programs work if used properly.      I am definitely against the resolution and hope every member will do a complete review of both lists before casting their vote.

Lanny Weaklend – Omaha, Nebraska United States

I agree with Michael Maltenfort’s comments regarding identifying SSD as an “Alternate Entry Program” and his excellent argument about the definitions “ownership & approval”.    I also agree with “Doc” Hiraga, Hiroshi Nakagawa and others that the wording of the  resolution document is inconsistent and confusing.  It states that we support the Community Dance Program as an independent program, but does not recognize it in the actual resolution.      Finally, while SSD is a fine program, so is Basic and so is the Community Dance program.  When will we realize it is not the “program” that is our problem, it is the fact that we do not support “Square Dancing” ending with BASIC or BASIC/MAINSTREAM.


I am against this resolution for a number of reasons:  1) If the 50 calls can be taught in 24 – 28 hours then so can the 48 BASIC call program which Callerlab recommends takes 44 hours.   2)        The resolution states, “Whereas: The SSD program has been the most successful experimental program developed under the Program Policy Initiative” I’m not sure what this claim is based on – I see nothing solid published and there is nothing in the Winning Ways section to validate this claim.    3)                As these calls are all from the BASIC and MS programs, I feel it is that committee that must manage the SSD program making it a parallel program to BASIC and MS. In my opinion, that makes it redundant.  4)           If dancers learning the SSD don’t learn all of the BASIC program OR all of the MS program, they can only dance SSD. That means unless adopted by all regions, the international relationship for standardized Square Dancing that has been built around the world will no longer exist.  5)   If this program is run as an alternate to BASIC and MS, there will be a great risk of dividing some regions possibly causing some territorial political issues that can do unbelievable damage to what has taken years to build!  6)            This program has changed names several times still trying to gain stable ground.  a.          One Floor  b.      Club 50  c.                Sustainable Square Dancing  d.  Social Square Dancing   7)             The people/dancers we are trying to gain don’t know anything about Square Dancing so the calls and number of calls is completely irrelevant to them, meaning this is not a valid sales pitch to potential dancers!    I see this Resolution as causing a divide in our activity undoing all that CALLERLAB has worked so hard over all these years to build and maintain.    If callers want to step outside the CALLERLAB programs and use this program for their own clubs, then that is their choice. It should remain in the “Other Programs” section like the “CDP”, “Handicapable” & “Condenced Teaching Methods” as an option for those who wish to pursue it and step outside the main Square Dance arena.     It should not be added to the approved CALLERLAB program list in my opinion.

Andy Shore – Aptos, CA United States

The resolution should include at least a pointer to the proposed SSD program. The current SSD FAQ [CALLERLAB-SSD-FAQ-Final-2020-10-06.pdf] says it’s here but following that link and trying to download yields an error.    Callerlab programs should be lists of calls. We shouldn’t have to dig deep, or extract a list of calls from a “lesson plan” to figure out what the proposed program list consists of.

Masaharu Hiraga – 4-8-34, Honjo, Saitama 日本

The way to list all the Dance Programs in Item 2 of the “BOG Program Policy” is not consistent in two reasons:   1. SSD has been explained as a Stand-Alone Program with a destination, so that it is not a “Entry Level Dance as listed in the resolution.   2. Also, I do not see the “Community Dance Program” listed in the same item 2.    Conclusion: Explanations given in the Resolution does not go together with the Item 2. of the BOG Program Policy.

Michael Maltenfort – Chicago, IL United States

I think there is a lot of potential in SSD, as has been demonstrated by many clubs, callers, and dancers.  I want to see SSD continue to be used—and perhaps it should be used more than ever in the next year or two.  That said, I disagree with the resolution to designate SSD as an “Alternate Entry Program.”    Having an “Alternate Entry Program” has a real potential to split our activity.  Let me give you just one example, an example based on having been vice-chair of the Definitions Committee for many years.  If this resolution is adopted, who controls the definitions?  It has never been the Definitions Committee (which only makes recommendations).  It has always been the Program Committees (Mainstream, Plus, etc.).  Who will control the definitions of calls that appear on the SSD list?  If the Basic and Mainstream Committee wants to make a definition change, do they have to get the approval of the SSD committee?  What if SSD wants to change a definition?    Let’s not splinter our activity.  Those who wish to teach or dance SSD should do so—and for all our sakes, let’s hope they get lots and lots of dancers to follow this program!  In fact, if enough dancers go this route, perhaps SSD should replace Basic and Mainstream, as some have suggested.  I could well support that change, but the current change I cannot support.  Let us vote against elevating SSD to be an official “Alternate Entry Program.”

Michael Triebenecker – Aschaffenburg, Bavaria Germany

No need to have an additional program with approximately 50 figures that will work as stand alone dance program. Just use Basic 1 with all it’s possibilities even beyond some callers practice.

Hiroshi Nakagawa – Moriyama, Shiga Japan

In the page-39 of “Briefs (Revised)(2019-06-18).pdf”, Sustainable Square dancing (SSD) is described as the Teach System.  also, In the paragraph of function, “To promote the SSD Teach System, along with the BOG EC and the entire CALLERLAB Membership, through education and supporting written documents and potential SSD educational videos.”    From above description, SSD was not developed as a Dance Program    Also, Dance Programs are B, MS,PL, A-1, A-2, C-1,C-2, C3-A. And, SSD is one of teach system as same as the Committee for Community and Traditional Dance (CCTD). CCTD is also not described as a Dance Program in the page-16 of “Briefs (Revised)(2019-06-18).pdf”.    Therefore, I oppose  to the below resolution.  “Resolution to Approve the Social Square Dance Program as a Recognized CALLERLAB Dance Program”

Dan & Kathy Koft – York, PA United States

The resolution contradicts itself.  In one part it states:    Whereas:             SSD is used to best advantage as destination in its own right, not as an entry program that escalates into later programs,     and later:    Be it resolved that the Social Square Dance program be added to the Program Policy Statement as an alternate entry-level destination dance program, intended for use without requiring any change to any other dance program.​    An entry program leads to something else.  A “stand alone” program seems to be what is in the first part describes and a “side door” entry into the wider world of Square Dancing is what the later part seems to describe.

Glenn Wilson – Brisbane, Qld. Australia

I feel the existing programs , if utilised properly , are enough and adequate.

Craig  Abercrombie – St Helens, OR United States

I am against this program unless we make SSD a program to replace Basic and Mainstream.     My reason is unless we make one program, our program, we will have our Country divided on club dance programs and then SSD dancers could not travel to MS clubs.    We NEED to all be on the same program.

Dave Eno – Preble, NY United States

I view the new dancer shortage as a marketing problem.  Since non-dancers know nothing about our activity, creating a separate list of calls will most likely not persuade them to take lessons.    Furthermore, I fear that multiple entry programs will divide the few dancers we have into even smaller groups that may interact with each other.  (SSD dancers aren’t apt to attend Basic / MS dances since they don’t know all of the moves.)    We need to figure out how to communicate to others how “cool” square dancing is so that they want to join us.

Tomas “Doug” Machalik – Kladno, none Czech Republic

I am not against SSD as a destination although I do not think I can use it in my area. However, if there are clubs who can benefit from it, let them use it.    The concern I want to express is the (in)compatibility with the existing programs. The wording and especially the structure of point 2 on page 2 makes an impression that SSD is an alternative to Basic – that dancers can either learn Basic, or learn SSD, and then continue with Mainstream. In my opinion, this is not true at all because SSD dancers do not know some Basic calls and they do not have much experience with other applications than standard.    I suggest to make it clear that the only intersection of SSD and the system of existing programs are the calls; from all the other points of view, SSD is totally independent and does not fit into the system at all.

Bruce Holmes – Evanston, IL United States

I think the abbreviated program is an excellent idea. I’ve used with huge success. But the name? SSD? It just sits there. A pile of letters. “Social Square Dance” is too long. And what does it mean? Certainly we can do better. Come up with a better name and the resolution would have my total support.