Author: Administrator

“PC Uber Alles … Not!” by Nick Martellacci reprinted from the August 1994 issue of Times Squared

Here’s an article thinking about the use of inclusive language in square dancing.

Since the advent of feminism, many organization and disciplines have attempted to show solidarity with their female friends and associates by adopting inclusive language, i.e. language which is free of assumed male dominance. While I can accept the principle of inclusive, non-patriarchal, non-gender-specific language, some of the implementations have been severely flawed. Let’s take Gay Square Dancing, for example.

The common custom used in all gay clubs (and by the callers who call for these clubs) is to call the people dancing the Boy’s part LEADS and the people dancing the GIRL’s part FOLLOWS. This particular custom should be dropped for three reasons (one political and two dance-related):

  1. Calling those dancing the Boy’s part LEAD and those dancing the Girl’s part FOLLOWS is chauvinistic, patriarchal and all of those other things inclusive language tries to avoid!!! Naming dancers in that way assumes that one person must lead and the other person must follow. Do the Girls really follow the boys when dancing a Teacup Chain???When dancing Cloverleaf, how can the girls be following the boys if they’re moving in the OPPOSITE direction?
  2. Using LEAD and FOLLOW instead of Boy and Girl is confusing and inaccurate. LEAD and FOLLOW can get confused with LEADER (one looking OUT of a formation) and TRAILER (one looking INTO a formation). If I call Heads Star Thru, Double Pass Thru, LEADS U-Turn Back – I don’t mean those dancing the boy’s part, I mean the couple in front. If I have the Sides Square Thru 4, Swing Thru and have the LEADS run or trade, I am referring to the one boy and the one Girl looking out of the wave, not to those dancing the Boy’s part.
  3. The terms Boy and Girl which I use almost exclusively when calling do not sound at all alike. These terms are readily understood by the dancers – even at the back of the hall. Boy and Girl are also easy to say when quickly delivering instruction s to the dancers and that keeps the flow of the dance intact.

Square Dancing does not lend itself readily to inclusive language. Square Dancing involves Goys and Girls, Men and Women, Gentlemen and ladies etc. If you want Square Dancing to be truly inclusive and an equal opportunity activity, insist on All Position Dancing and Dancing By Definition in which a square survives only if all members are able to dance all parts of all calls. Lt eh boys be courtesy turned by the girls once in a while; let the girls recycle the boys; and by all means let the men scream their way through a Teacup Chain. AAAAHHHH! Now, didn’t that feel good?


An article on volunteering by Steven Skyles-Mulligan reprinted from the May 1998 issue of Times Squared

Here’s an article that will help you think about the best way you can volunteer to help make Times Squares better.

I continue to be amazed at the variety of individuals who decide to square dance, as well as their talents and other interests. We are such a diverse group that square dancing is often the only thing we have in common. Sure, friendships – even romances – form, but so do less-positive relationships. And often one can hear complaints in the air, either about individuals or about the way this or that was done. I enjoy dish as much as the next person; my sister, Blanche, and I have been known to pass large parts of an evening sitting in the corner making “observations” about eh world. Still, in an organization like ours, it can be very damaging. I’m convinced that one reason people seldom volunteer for things is an overriding sense that whatever they do will be picked apart by other well-meaning members. Because of our current poor financial situation and decreasing membership, it’s critical that we do everything we can to strengthen our sense of community, even though it is built around a single interest. Here are some questions for each of us to ask before we offer complaints, comments or criticism:

  • Is the event/situation over? If it is, it’s a done deal and nothing can be done to change it now.
  • Do I have a concrete idea for improving the situation? If so, share it!
  • Am I willing to work to implement my ideas? Terrific!
  • Could I really do a better job than the person who ran the event? Would I be willing to put in the effort to do it?
  • Am I really just venting? If so, admit it! The person who’ listening to you may not mind nearly so much if they know you only expect them to listen.
  • This doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for the occasional complaint (and the Board will of course continue to listen.) But we all need to be more supportive of each other’s work within the organization. Otherwise, we are in for some very unhappy times indeed.

I recognize that this is not the most upbeat topic, but I thought it was important to broach the issue. After all, Spring is the time to chase the dust and cobwebs from the corners. Your comments and suggestions are welcome.


“Pride of Callers” by Alain Buzzard reprinted from the June 2003 issue of Times Squared

We really should be grateful for all the wonderful callers who have called for us over the years. And remember that it wasn’t always like this!

How things have changed for the better in the last twenty years! “In the olden days,” Times Squares only enjoyed national callers by playing their tapes and records. Homophobia and/or fear of the unknown prevented the Bid Cats from calling for us. The came Betsy Gotta!

Following in the tradition of social responsibility set by her father (one of the first callers to actively encourage Jewish couples to join the dance, breaking the unwritten code of anti-Semitism rampant in the nation), Betsy started calling regularly for us. In recognition for her support of Gay Square Dancing, Betsy was the recipient of last year’s GOLDEN BOOT award at the IAGSDC convention.

And once the door was opened, other callers worked up the courage to start calling for same sex couples. Don’t forget: those were the days when straight couples usually wore “twin-look” western garb, making it a lot easier for callers to recognize who was whose partner. To suddenly be confronted with a floor of same gendered couples, many of whom kept change “roles” during the evening, presented a significant new challenge for callers.

Praises be: homophobia is no longer sanctioned in the larger square dance community and we regularly have some of the best callers in the word at our dances.

For example, did you know that Mike Jacobs is the Chairman of the Board for Callerlab, the largest and most influential association of square dance caller in the word. Todd Fellegy, Anne Ueberlacker, Saundra Bryant, Ben Rubright, John Marshall, Ron Libby, Lee Kopman, Vick Ceder, Barry Clasper, Deborah Parnell Carroll, Lloyd Sparks, Ed Foote, and … and … and … – are among the international callers who have shaped the word of square dancing as we know and love it – and called for us.

Among the big cats, not to forget our own home-grown cubs – Nick Martellacci, Howard Richman and Geo Jedlicka – who qualify as international callers too.

Geo, regularly calling at the highest levels for those clubs here and I Europe who can field C-4 dancers; Howard, on stage at The Met; and then there is Nick.

Many of you who started dancing under Nick’s tutelage may not yet appreciate how incredibly gifted he is – not only as a teacher, but as a choreographer and performer. We have every right to be proud of our pride of Kings and Queens.


“Dress Code” reprinted from the September 1988 issue of Times Squared

This is the last in our series on drag in Times Squares. View previous article.

A dress code has been adopted by the Board of Directors, with input from interested members of the club. On behalf of those who cross dress, Antonio reported that they will not wear drag where the Club is being represented publicly, including the Gay Pride parade and the Grand march at the annual convention. They would like to wear drag at regular club meetings and Club socials. The Board unanimously agreed.

“What’s Up Dude?” by Pete Rivera reprinted from the August 1988 issue of Times Squared

This is the fourth in our series on drag in Times Squares. View previous or next article.

I’m not into wearing drag. And so, I don’t do it. But there are a few of our club members that (thank goodness) do. So often they are ridiculed for it and I guess that’s the price they pay for being outrageous. Still, their outrageousness ignites a spark of gaiety in our bunch of squares. It’s my thought that we gay men and women could benefit from encouraging and supporting those who share their harmless fun of dressing up.

As much as I would like lesbians in our club (so other women will feel more comfortable) I feel that that is their choice to make. (Editor’s note: Pete is referring to the lesbian organization that was looking into joining our club, but decided against it when they saw some members in drag at the parade.) If they accept us for what we are – GREAT! If they don’t – who needs them anyway? We don’t need militant dykes that love to fag bash. Then there is this creep who for whatever reason was going to donate some money to our cause, but the poor thing had a change of heart because one of our muscle-bound girls was mentioned in a city newspaper.

What’s up dude – are you jealous?

Our number of dress-ups are minimal. So many homosexuals lose their jobs or seek less paying jobs just to be free to be who they are. Are we to sell ourselves dead city to please some jerk with big bucks because he doesn’t enjoy associating himself with drags? How far will this go? Will some heterosexual sponsor OUR GAY CLUB as long as we don’t do-sa-do with the same sex? I feel sick! My stomach turns at the thought that money would override our right to be. Why don’t we all just join a straight square dance club where we can be assured that those who dress up are biological women?

I heard tell that less than a hand count showed up to march with us in female attire and were criticized for doing so. I’m shocked that even a hint of negative thought was judged against them on the day that was supposedly our proudest day of all. And I though t fish was stinky.

Where is the BOARD in their duties of protecting these MEMBERS IN GOOD STANDING’S dignity? Why don’t I hear them sneering at those who would stomp all over us? It is so difficult for many of us to come out of our closets – and finally when we do, some along with their sister’s high heels and their mother’s bag and pearls … are we to abandon them?

To our ladies of the mustache persuasion – I’ll defend your honor. I hope I’m not alone. If the world sees you belles as an exact representation of us – so be it. We know we don’t all dress up, but the ignorance of the world at large doesn’t have to be ours.

Luv Ya Gals!

“From the Mouse” reprinted from the August 1988 issue of Times Squared

This is the third in our series on drag in Times Squares. View previous or next article. Third in a series of articles about drag in Times Squares. View the previous or next article.

In lieu of Gay Pride, while parading

Some members preferred masquerading.

            In The Times, they expressed

            That they weren’t overdressed.

But to others, it seemed quite degrading.


“From Joe DiSabato” reprinted from the August 1988 issue of Times Squared

This is the second in our series on drag in Times Squares. View previous or next article.

This issue of the newsletter is full of commentary about the issue of drag within the Times Squares. Since my profession is advertising and public relations, I thought a few of my thoughts on the subject might be appropriate.

The Gay Pride Parade is our community’s single most visible public relations display to the world at large each year. The media loves to show pictures of men dressed as women, or as butterflies, or as anything other than what appears to be “normal” people; these images are more colorful, provoking and in general make for much better press than reporting that, for the 19th year in a row, 100,000 “normal-looking” people, who happen to be gay, went marching down Fifth Avenue to show that they are everywhere and want to be accepted by society for what they are – normal, productive, valuable human beings with a right to their place in society without fear of hatred, prejudice, violence or death on account of their sexual orientation. And let’s not lose sight of the goals of the ”gay liberation movement”. The gay movement is a movement looking to achieve acceptance for our community by society regardless of our sexual orientation, not to reinforce society’s rejection of us.

From a public relations point of view, those who appear in women’s drag, leather drag, or any other ‘outrageous” form of costume play in the desire of the media to portray our community as a bunch of “freaks’ and ‘queers”. Does this mean that no one should appear in the parade in this fashion? As much as the public relations man in me wants to say “yes.” The civil rights activist in me says “no”. Who are we, who have suffered so much as a result of trying to make our true natures conform to the constraints of “straight” society, to demand that our brothers and sisters in the gay community now conform to a dress code so as not to offend the sensibilities of that same society?

On the other hand, my perception is that none of our members is clinically a “transvestite,” which calls into question whether or not we are truly dealing with a “civil rights” issue in this situation. Drag is used in our club for laughs and for a good time at our own affairs. What we must address here are two issues: 1) assuming that we are not defending the civil rights of any clinical transvestite to live out his (or her) true nature shouldn’t those of our members who dress is drag “for a laugh” be more conscious of the appropriate times and places for these laughs and be more sensitive to the possible media and image repercussions of drag when at such a public media circus as the Gay Pride Parade, and 2) does the Times Squares as an organization have any right whatsoever to determine its own public image – both within and outside of our own community – or is the organization ‘s image always to be determined by the whims of any individual member at any time regardless of the desires of the majority of its members?

Many of our members have strongly objected to drag at public functions in the aftermath of this year’s parade. Should those of our members who wish to march in drag be told that the club does not wish to project this image to the community at large, and that if they wish to appear in drag in the parade, there are other places in the line of march where such attire would be more welcome? I don’t claim to know what the desires of the club’s majority is, but perhaps the board should put the question of drag at public functions to a vote of the entire membership just to ascertain the feeling of the club members about these two central questions.

“From Chick” by F. William Chickering reprinted from the August 1988 issue of Times Squared

The reprinted articles in February will revisit the responses we had as a club around the issue of drag and how we were perceived my the straight community as a result of an article about the 1988 Pride Parade in the New York Times excerpted here:

“A bearded man calling himself Virginia Hamm, wearing a blond wig, a pink dress, pink gloves and white high-heeled shoes, marched with the Times Squares, a New York square dancing organization.

Was he overdressed for a parade?

“Only if it rains,” he said.

After scattered showers in the morning, the afternoon was hot and hazy, and it didn’t rain on his parade.”

Read the next article.

Dear Dick:

I was deeply disturbed by the tenor of the announcements delivered at club night last evening. Taking the lead from the movement slogan “SILENCE=DEATH,” I feel I must speak out on the issues raised last evening.

If conformity were a prime value of gay people, there would be no gay movement. Those who would have our members be more conformist should just as well send us back to Iowa, Texas Georgia, Montana and all of the other places from which we have fled conformity and bigotry to be able to live our lives as who we truly are.

The themes of tolerance, acceptance and respect for diversity and individual differences are not only at the foundation of the gay movement but at the foundations of this nation. If we begin by actively discouraging “drag” in our club because some people are offended, then other activities with which we feel at home in our club may also be discouraged. Will we be told that leather is unacceptable; that kissing is unacceptable at club functions’ that hand holding and embracing while not dancing is unacceptable? Where might this end? If conformity is so highly valued, why do we, as gay people form our own clubs? Why don’t we just join “straight” clubs?

Those who are quick to express their displeasure with drag are likely to always find causes for their displeasure. Those who would not join the Times Squares because of drag activities or any other characteristic of the club do not really want to dance with us and are probably not the kinds of people who would assist the club in growing and flourishing

I also feel the need to stress that announcements of a serious nature need to be carefully considered and thoughtfully worded. They should be expressed by peers to peers without hostility or condescension. In communications, both style and substance are important if significant issues are to be discussed without divisive effects on the club.

We are fortunate to have a large club with a wide diversity of members. This diversity should be cherished and nurtured.

Sincerely,

F. William Chickering



“Styling” from the December 1987 issue of Times Squared

Consistent styling makes the flow of our dancing so much smoother. It’s the difference between dancing and just walking through random patterns.

As a club, we have been dancing sloppily of late (and not so of late). Sometimes it seems as though we are more concerned about getting in the maximum number of twirls, claps, stomps, etc., than in ending up in the correct position at an appropriate distance from one another.

One of the things that happens frequently is that we end up with our square spread out or our line ragged, or our columns all over the place, or our waves looking like a hurricane just passed through. This may, just possible, have something to do with BREAKING DOWN.

Everyone needs to know where you need to be in relation to the other seven dancers in the square. There is a certain precision to square dancing that at times has been missing in our dancing.

KEEP THOSE SQUARES TIGHT!