Square-Dancing Steps Into Rock, Hip-Hop
New music irks veterans, but new blood is crucial
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 16, 2009 12:29 PM CST
Youngsters can get a little rowdy when they take up the tradition.   (©davidsilver)
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(Newser) – That tattered bastion of Americana, square-dancing, has fallen on hard times, but intrepid youngsters and older dancers eager to court them have turned to non-traditional music and methods to keep the practice alive. In Portland, Ore., a 20-something caller gathers friends in warehouses to do-si-do to punk rock. “It turns into a hoedown mosh pit,” he tells the Wall Street Journal. Some purists are aghast, but the new blood is vital.

“It's scary,” an older dancer says of the falloff in dancers—one group estimates the number at 300,000 nationwide, down from 1 million in the 1970s. The older and younger breeds of dancers have reached a wary accord in some groups. One spritely dancer says his caller grandfather’s square-dance version of “Whoomp! (There It Is)” is a crowd favorite. Still, his wife says, “we have to warn older dancers that they're in a younger square. It can get crazy.”