The National Folk Dance Committee tried to make the square dance the official national dance in 1988, without success. As often happens when something fails on the national level, the group aimed their sites at the states. Idaho couldn’t resist the lobbyists from Big Dance. It became one of 19 states to decide, suddenly, that it just had to have a state dance.
I dance only in the shower, so have not participated in this particular passion. I am told that the name comes from the beginning placement of couples. Two face each other, let’s say, north and south, and two east and west. In the American version of the dance, a caller calls out instructions to the dancers while the music plays. Apparently without revulsion the couples, for instance, do si do on command.
The square dance has its roots in 16th-century England, though it has become associated most strongly with Western—as in cowboy Western—culture. When the bill to make it the state dance was introduce, Idaho Senator Claire Wetherell, (d for Democrat and Dance) said, “Square dancing is typical of Idaho’s lifestyle.” Well, okay. I’m not sure I can get seven other people in the shower, though.