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European Square Dance Convention 2008

July 16, 2008

Grand MarchSquare DancingOpening Ceremony

The European Square Dance Convention – 2008
by Michael A. Craft

The European Square Dance convention was held June 6-8, 2008 in Hocheim, Germany.  My wife Alice and I attended along with 11 other Florida dancers, most of whom belong to the Whirl and Twirl Square Dance Club in Orlando, Florida.  Although it was a European convention our group was permitted and proud to represent the United States by carrying the U.S. flag in the convention’s grand parade.

The opening ceremonies began with performers presenting a history of the dances that lead to square dancing as we know it today, with an emphasis on the United States Civil War period.  It was fascinating to see European men in Union and Confederate Civil War uniforms complete with muskets, dancing with ladies in full length period gowns.  Music included “When Johnny Comes Marching Home”, and “The Bonnie Blue Flag”.  The ceremonies then followed the progression, through costume, music, and dance, to square dancing as we know it today.

20 callers and 16 cuers from Europe called and cued to packed halls; 16 nations from 346 clubs were represented by approximately 1,650 dancers.

In Germany air conditioning in halls is very rare and there was none in the convention halls.  It was extremely hot but that did not prevent everyone from having a great time.  German dancers learn Dancing by Definition (DBD) from their first lesson, and consequently German dances are often challenging for Americans who routinely dance in standard positions.   Also, the European dancers used many flourishes which may be a bit confusing to the uninitiated, but they are easy to learn, or can be ignored without difficulty.

The next European Convention will be held in Sweden in 2010.

Photos courtesy of Michael and Alice Craft. Click on a photo to see it enlarged.

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