Square Dancing Rules: SoEx Hosts a Hootenanny

Categories: Only in SF
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Jug band The Goat Family leads a free-form dance after tonight's square dance at SoEx

In fifth grade, I dreaded the Square Dance Day. Not only did the logistics of switching partners and crossing hands to the right and walking backwards in a circle in front of thousands (exaggeration) of spectators freak me out, it had to be done in Western wear. You got an auto-F if you didn't dress up. Borrowing my mother's glossy black boots and ankle-length denim skirt for a poor interpretation of a cowgirl only progressed my panic further. I think my partner, Joey, was equally upset about his outfit choice; screwing up on Square Dance Day was not an option and mucking up the outfit was a bad start. As the hoedown emcee ushered us into each step, we listened to every call attentively, with stern, joyless faces, falling into step with rigidity of form. But we did it. We dos-a-dosed and never looked back. Yay, Joey!

Now that I'm older, and I've come to terms with dancing in public and now love folk and old-timey things, I'm excited about the Homestead Hootenanny at Southern Exposure tonight. From films on worming your compost bin (where is Lloyd's "I Got Worms" store when you need it?) to home-made brew and pickled things, the How-To Homestead crew will host a night that ends in... a square dance! And it doesn't freak me out anymore. As much. Because I want to go tonight, I'm psyching myself into five reasons why square dancing actually rules:

Exercise for brain and body. You have to count. Or at least know how to count and listen carefully.

Swinging. Sure you get to swing your partner, but you also get a new partner. You get to hook arms with babes who are not your boyfriend/girlfriend.

There are clear instructions. If you screw up, blame it on your square-dance caller for not being direct.

The outfits. We all have plaid in our closets and some of us still have cowboy boots. No more wearing Mom's misunderstanding of Western wear to the sneers of evil peers. There's much more acceptance and flexibility as you get older.

The music. Banjos, fiddles and bluegrass! Who doesn't love a little heartfelt storytelling and sweet string music? Live band Pearsons Pork Pies will lead the dance tonight. Members are Erik Pearson on banjo, Jordan Ruyle on fiddle, Amy Hofer on fiddle, Dan Kluger on guitar, and Megan Adie on bass.

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