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Learn To Square Dance - It's easy!

Jim Vickers-Willis taught hundreds of thousands of people to square dance. Learning to square dance is easy, and its great fun. And there is no better way to learn than to be shown how, and you'll find plenty of welcoming and friendly people eager to teach you how at your local Square Dance club - use the links on the Square Dance Links page to help you find your local club

In the meantime, there is a little information on this page to get you started - perhaps try some of these steps with family and friends at home, or teach the kids at your local school.

Have a listen to Jim's audio teaching tracks (see links at right), and refer to the extra instructions, pictures, and brief video clips below as you need more information.

When you feel you have mastered the basic steps, there's plenty more advanced square dancing resources waiting for you in Jim's Catalogue and Australian 1950's Square Dance Archive.

So, let's get started with learning to square dance:

Here Are The Basic Steps Taught on Teaching Track #1

THE SQUARE: Each square dance set is made up of 4 couples, who stand side by side in pairs in a square shape - see picture. Each man has a lady on his right who is called his 'partner'. Each man will also have a lady on his left - she is called his 'corner', sometimes also referred to as his 'left-hand lady'. The set should be big enough so that all dancers can join hands to form a ring. Each man's starting position in the set is called his 'home' - he always returns to his 'home' position. Ladies have no 'home' position - they always go with the man to his 'home' position.

THE BOW: The man takes the left hand of the lady, he extends his right foot, she extends her left foot, and they both lean back.



THE SWING: The lady and man face each other in ballroom dancing position, and move toward each other right side to right side, so that no part of the body or feet overlaps. The man places his right arm around the lady's waist. She places her left arm on his right arm. His left hand holds her right hand, extended about shoulder high. Their momentum as they start past each other will carry them on around. Sometimes the caller will ask the man to swing his 'partner' - the lady on his right. Sometimes the caller will ask him to swing his 'corner' - the lady on his left. To finish the swing, the man always leaves the lady on his right side - she now becomes his new 'partner'.

THE PROMENADE: Right hands joined to right hands, and left hands joined to left hands go underneath the right arms.

The man promenades the lady around the ring - in an anti-clockwise direction - and stops when he gets back to his 'home' position.

THE SASHAY: To sashay around your 'Partner', the man moves to the right, the lady to the left, passing right shoulder to right shoulder, walking around each other once, returning to their starting position. To sashay around your 'Corner', the man moves to the left, lady to the right, passing left shoulder to left shoulder, walking each other once, returning to their starting position.

Here Are Extra Basic Steps Taught on Teaching Track #2


This move is really two steps. The first step is an ALLEMANDE LEFT - see picture. The man turns to his left, the lady to her right - that is, 'Corners' face each other. The lady & man put up their left hands, as though making a stop sign in a car. The two left hands are then joined. Left elbows are together shoulder high, keeping the arms braced. This step is also called a LEFT HAND SWING.
The second step is a RIGHT & LEFT GRAND - pictured. The man walks around his Corner, and gives extends his right hand in the handshake position to his 'Partner'. He pulls his 'Partner' straight through (so that you pass right shoulder to right shoulder), and gives his left hand (again in handshake position) to the next lady around the ring (her left hand, too). He then pulls this lady through (passing left shoulder to left shoulder) and gives his right hand in handshake position to the next lady. He pulls that one through and then gives his left hand in handshake position to next girl. So now he pulls through the lady you have by the left hand and take the next one (your 'Partner') by the right hand.
THE TWIRL: Although optional, its nice to finish this step with a Twirl - pictured. The man raises her hand above her head and give her a right hand a twirl. That is, as you meet her take her right hand, raise it above her head, twirling the lady clockwise one turn. Then the man promenades his partner back to his home position.
THE CHAIN: Ladies (or men) chain across the ring by putting their right hands out to each other, and pull each other across the set, right shoulder to right shoulder.
RIGHT HAND STAR: Four Men (or ladies) put their right hands into the middle of the set with their wrist on the wrist of the person in front of them, and circle The Star in a clockwise direction. For a LEFT HAND STAR, put left hands into the middle and circle THE STAR anti-clockwise.


Instructions on basic and advanced square dance steps are also demonstrated in Jim's classic square dancing teaching aid "The Australian Standard Square Dance". This manual is available for immediate viewing and download (Pdf format) by clicking on the picture at left.

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Teaching Tracks
Copy these recordings onto other formats for ease of teaching - right click on your mouse, then "Save Target As..."

#1 Teaching Track -
My Old Man's A Dustman

#2 Teaching Track -
The Trail of the Lonesome Pine

FREE Teaching Film

Click here to view a short film of Jim's 1950's Exhibition Set demonstrating basic & intermediate steps

Be patient - this clip is old and slow to download but well worth viewing



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