Ashe Elton Parker

A Writer of LGBTQ+ Characters in Speculative Fiction

Hip to be Square

I am a square dancer. It’s not as corny as it sounds. The club I’m a member of, Temple Squares is the only LGBT club in Utah. Most of our members live right here in Salt Lake City and its surrounding cities.

Back in 2009, I went to SLC’s Pride Festival. I think I’d actually volunteered there, and it may have been the second or third year I did so. Anyway, I was wandering the grounds, exploring, and came across the Temple Squares booth, where they had a square of dancers demonstrating. The moment I saw it and realized it was square dancing, I got excited. The last time I’d done this was in middle school—8th grade—and it had been the best Phys Ed experience I had that year; the boys in my PE class wanted nothing to do with me unless they were required to associate with me. I had a ball during the entire square dancing module, so, when I found it at the Pride Festival here, I knew I’d found something I could enjoy.

So I signed up for information and, the next time they had classes, I showed up. It’s one of the best things I’ve done for myself since becoming stabilized. LGBT square dancers are an extremely friendly, cheerful, welcoming bunch. It’s not unusual for them to visit different clubs in nearby states/cities, and when they do, the members of the clubs they visit commonly offer places to stay. That’s what we did when we went to Denver to dance with the Rocky Mountain Rainbeaus, some of whose members came to our first Fly-In a few years ago. (Fly-Ins are little mini-conventions individual clubs host.)

As of September of this year, I’ll have been a member of Temple Squares for five years. I’ve been on the board as secretary for about three or four of those years and plan on retaining the position in this year’s board elections later on this year. I’ve found some of the best friends I’ve ever had in square dancing.

And, this year, over Fourth of July weekend, Salt Lake City, Utah is hosting the national LGBT square dancing convention. Yes, this is a b thing. A list of clubs and their locations can be found on the International Association of Gay Square Dance Clubs list, in case you’re interested in finding out if any are near where you live—or even if you only want some more information.

One of the things I really like about LGBT square dancing is its openness to people. With most straight dance groups (at least in my locale), you must bring your own partner. With LGBT groups, you don’t need to. Also, with most straight groups, they do require the traditional square dance uniform—for females and those who look it, that means a skirt with crinolines with a pretty, feminine top; men are required to wear a long sleeved shirt. Most of the time, the man’s shirt will match the woman’s skirt somehow, but it’s not a requirement they match, only that the dancers are dressed traditionally. LGBT groups, though, allow dancers to dress in whatever they like.

Plus, we dance with flair. Dancers from the local straight clubs who dance with us frequently tell us how much fun it is to dance with us. We also dance a little faster than the other clubs.

My club hosts a novices’ dance from seven to nine at night every fourth Saturday of the month throughout the year. This event is free to all who come, and it doesn’t require any previous knowledge (or memory) of square dancing. Throughout the evening, all the calls the dancers need are taught. This is one of the best opportunities for people to experience how much fun square dancing is. So, if any readers of my blog happen to be in SLC the fourth Saturday of any month, I invite you to join us for some fun.

1 Comment

  1. Makes me wish I could take you up on the invitation. My last square dance experience was 9th grade (we will ignore how many years ago that was!), and I did enjoy it. And I love that you don’t have the same dress code. Sure, they skirts are pretty and all, but I’m not a fan of having to spend more money than I have to. 😉

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