What is modern square dancing?

Modern square dancing has been around for a long time, having evolved from various types of dancing in the United Kingdom, continental Europe, and America.

We dance in groups of eight people. Modern square dancing involves cooperation with and understanding of what the other seven dancers are doing, reacting to calls (moves/steps) from the caller, and immediately dancing the steps. Unlike traditional square dancing, the focus is not on learning an entire dance - but rather on mastering individual calls. The dance leader or "caller" then strings these steps (calls) together in any order and the dancers must react and execute the call. Good thing our callers are great teachers: they make sure everyone knows how to perform the steps before they are called in a dance!

Modern square dancing is fast-paced and fun. Part of the fun comes from not knowing what the caller will call next! Another part is the music. Many people are surprised at the variety of music used in square dancing. "I didn't know you could square dance to that!" is often heard when people are first exposed to modern square dancing. Expect to dance to classic rock, new country and rock & roll!

Why should I give modern square dancing a try?

Great exercise: Looking for a new way to get out and meet people? Need a bit of exercise during the fall and winter that does not involve a treadmill, snow, ice, or sweaty bodies? Do you love different types of music? Are you able to walk and count to five? Then Modern Square Dancing is for you! Seriously! We dance to a wide variety of music and there is no hopping or bouncing, just quick walking and neat combinations of steps, with the occasional slow spin. And someone else tells you when to do each move…no memorizing a whole routine. While square dancing is not strenuous, it will make your Fitbit go wild --- 5,000 steps on a normal two-hour dance night! And research has shown that it keeps your brain exercised as much the rest of your body! Takes a sharp mind to instantaneously recall 50 moves. A bonus not offered by most exercise program.

Social: Plus you will meet many people from a variety of backgrounds and of different ages. Square dancing is not just for elementary school students or your grandparents! It is a perfect choice for a night out when the kids no longer need a babysitter (or when they still do) and you need a bit of fun. Some of the world's best square dancers are students at MIT.

Dance anywhere you go: Meri Squares welcomes new dancers in September and January to its SSD or Social Square Dancing program. Over a 12-week period, you will be taught some 50 different calls that the dance leader, or caller, will then combine to create a "tip" or dance. Once you learn the moves, you can dance anywhere. You can visit different clubs in the Ottawa area that have an introductory level, or head to the USA, Japan or Europe and dance there. The calls are the same everywhere in the world! And the longer you dance, the more calls you can learn, if you want to (no pressure), but with what you learn in the first 12 weeks, you are good to go! And it's FUN! Every dancer makes mistakes, even the "experienced dancers," so your fellow dancers in the square will brush it off and keep dancing. No stress!

Great music: Not a fan of Old Tyme country music? Prefer rock & roll or new country? Then you are in luck! Modern square dance callers use a wide variety of music. You will be singing along to today's Top 10 and your all-time favourites.

A few FAQs

No partner? No problem.

At Meri Squares, we welcome singles or couples. Many people learn to dance both the right hand (woman) and left-hand (man) position so there is always someone to be your partner. Not interested in crinolines, wide skirts or Western shirts? Also not a problem. Most people wear casual clothes to Club dance nights. As you get more experienced, or have the inclination, you may decide to adopt full square dance attire for special events or dances. But again, no pressure. Just make sure you have soft-soled, indoor shoes and you will be welcome on the dance floor.

Is it expensive?

Meri Squares charges a flat rate for the 12-week SSD program of $130. You will want to make the commitment to dance one night a week for the 12 weeks to ensure you learn all the calls and are ready to dance at the end of the session. Just think - two hours of exercise, good music, great people, and lots of fun for about $5 an hour!

Still have questions?

Contact David at 613-832-2284 or Or take a look at the following website, which has good information for beginners: