Get in shape with the official Oregon state dance!

The New West
dancing couplePhoto byScott BroomeonUnsplash

While you probably know that the state animal is the beaver, you may not know the state dance. In fact, a lot of folks don’t even know that Oregon has had a state dance for almost half a century now. One of the benefits of it is that you can get in shape while celebrating your state pride.

Oregon, like the rest of the states, celebrates state pride in a number of ways, including state symbols. These can range from animals, like the beaver, to trees like the Douglas fur. (Yup, those are Oregon’s!)

In order for something to become a state symbol, some entity needs to bring a proposal to the state. Then, during the legislative session, members weigh the reasoning to determine if the symbol rises to the level of representing the state.

Square dancing becomes the official state dance

Almost fifty years ago, the legislature accepted square dancing as the official state dance. In 1977, they determined that the “lively spirit of the dance exemplifies the friendly, free nature and enthusiasm that are a part of the Oregon character.” This American dance is the state dance for at least 21 other states too.

Finding a square dancing club near you

Unfortunately, fewer people square dance than in the past. Hopefully, this Oregon state dance will get greater attendance in the near future. Perhaps younger generations will adopt it and modernize it in the spirit of today’s Oregon.

However, you can still find events. In fact, there is one on the 20th in Grants Pass. It takes places at the Josephine County Fairgrounds, starting at 7:30, with pre-rounds starting thirty minutes earlier. There will be a silent auction, and dancers are asked to bring a baked good for it.

The following weekend, there is a three-day event at the Josephine County Fairgrounds. Pre-registration is just $40, with a $5 charge added if you purchase at the door. Square dance attire is not required for this gathering, which begins on Friday the 26th at 6 p.m. and concludes at 4 p.m. Sunday afternoon.

For those close to Battle Ground, Washington, there is an event on the 28th. It is a new dancer celebration, so it is perfect for newbies! A clothing sale begins at 5 p.m., with the dancing following an hour later. You can find out more about it here.

And, there are many events scheduled throughout the state over the coming months. Find out more about them at the Oregon Federation of Square and Round Dance Clubs.

Find out some of the fabulous benefits of square dancing and stick around for a brief history of the Oregon State Dance:

Benefits of square dancing

Square Up Fashions offers a list of several reasons that people should start square dancing, including that it is super easy to learn. This allows children and those who have developmental challenges to still participate in this fun social activity.

Improved health is a clear benefit because there is so much motion. Additionally, significant cardio is involved, with plenty of strengthening of weight-bearing bones.

For those who aren’t interested in the club scene but still want to be active, square dancing fits the bill! It is a safer place to meet people because you are in a group.

Where did square dancing start, anyway?

Although it is an American dance, it draws on European roots. These have then been expanded on and altered to become square dancing as we know it today.

These ancient dances include “Morris Dance from England and a French dance form called the quadrille, first documented in the seventeenth century” While the European dances are often performed in lines and circles, the square formation is uniquely American.

The French form was popularized after the American Revolution.

Square dancing saw a revival in the 1950s thanks to a zealous educator, Lloyd Shaw. Schools across the nation keep it in the curriculum for many years, though eventually popularity waned and it got cut from school after school.

What do you say, Oregon? Are you ready to get out there and learn how to square dance? Perhaps you celebrate state pride in another way that you would like to share. I look forward to seeing what you all have to say!

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Fun stories and interesting facts from the Pacific NW and around the country. With a focus on Oregon, I will also talk about various environmental happenings in the western US.

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