|entertainment where people could meet. Since CallerLab defined the various dance programs, two things have happened:
- - - In order to dance with any club or at any dance, you must enter a class and have formal training – non-dancers will not/cannot attend a dance evening, and expect to be included in a square without that training
- - - Enthusiasts have driven their clubs to move the bar for dancing upwards. There are no clubs providing dancing at the basic level, and few that dance full-time at the mainstream level. This further delays the time when anyone wishing to dance can actually take part. In effect, we expect a non-dancer to commit to at least six months of training before being able to join a social dance evening! Contrast this with the basic waltz, two-step, or line dance, which can be learned (if not mastered) in an evening.
- - - Because extensive training is now required in order for a non-dancer to start to take part, class times are long; and as a consequence, someone with a passing interest in square dance may have to wait several months before being admitted to a club in order to start training!
In summary, square dancing is becoming elitist and inaccessible to new dancers. The entry bar is now set too high, and the commitment required is too onerous for most people to undertake it. Without early rewards (in the form of basic entertainment after minimal training) fewer and fewer are likely to even try this dance form.
Decline in Retention
Some of the same factors influence retention. One of the biggest complaints is with the constant need to “angel” new classes. With the long period of training needed to reach an ‘acceptable’ level (mainstream or plus), clubs are left with relatively little time to actually dance these levels.
It should be noted that there will always be attrition, and this is why the activity needs to pay attention to continuous recruitment. Many dancers join clubs to find a social outlet that is less challenging than the regular gay bar scene. Many join as part of their ‘coming out’ process, and after developing both friendships and other community interests, they tend to reduce the amount of time that they spend dancing. Fortunately some do find square dance a compelling activity, and continue with clubs for many years. These are the dancers that are most likely to become disillusioned with the constant repetition of classes.
Issues Specific To The Wilde Bunch
One of the limiting factors for successful recruitment and retention is the current venue for the club.