Do you remember square dancing in a P.E. class? Or did your parents go to weekly square dance classes? However you've heard about square dancing did you know it is one of the first American dances?
Square dancing is a combination of English line dancing, French quadrilles and cotillions performed in squares. After the French aided America with the Revolution they left behind the French dances and rural America began fashioning them to fit their more robust way of dancing than the city folk.
As people moved west the square dance went with them and American songs sprung up like "The Arkansas Traveler" and "Turkey in the Straw". The fiddle music became lively and the fiddler began to call out the steps using the French names, allmande, chassez, and dos-a-dos along with "swing in the center, break that pair. Lady goes on and the gent stays there."
Today there is traditional and modern square dancing. Traditional is any dance that was before 1950 and has a limited number of basic movements and the caller has set calls. Modern or Western square dance the caller is allowed to change up the calls stringing them together in any sequence he chooses.
Source: Reader's Digest, Discovering America's Past and The history of Square Dance