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Metro Atlanta Square Dancers Association Carries on a Historic Tradition

By S. Mathur

Square dancing is an American tradition with roots in several European countries, but its own music, folklore, and history. It's also excellent aerobic exercise and a great way to meet people. "Square dancing is a fantastic social activity that will exercise your body and mind," says Eric Buckler, President of the Metro Atlanta Square Dancers Association (MASDA) in Marietta, GA. "Some say that every hour of square dancing adds an hour to your life!"

Sounds like a good investment. In just a few lessons, a beginner can pick up enough steps to participate in an enjoyable evening. Buckler recommends taking lessons through one of several square dance clubs in the area before hitting the dance floor. "After taking lessons," he says, "a square dancer has the ability to show up at any square dance anywhere in the world and participate in the fun!"

He's not kidding. Square dances are held all over the world - and, surprisingly, always called in English. "We recently had visiting dancers from Denmark," recalls Buckler, "one of whom could speak no English, except of course he understood square dance calls and was an excellent dancer!"

Across the US, however, square dancing has seen a decline. This is true of Georgia as a well, says Buckler, though the area still has thirteen active member clubs, and MASDA membership numbers about 300 dancers. "I have been to club dances with as few as 2 squares, or 16 dancers to as many as 12 or 13 squares on the dance floor," he says. "As long as at least 4 couples and a square dance caller are there, we have a dance!"

MASDA does its bit to support square dancing and dancers through its website, masda.net, as well as its monthly magazine, Footnotes, which carries news and dance locations and times of member clubs. It supports the Callers and Cuers Memorial Dance and organizes demonstrations and events on request, including at nursing homes. Member clubs in the Kennesaw area participate in local parades and community events.

"Personally, I love to square dance not only because of the wonderful people who are involved with this activity, but because it has literally reduced the stress in my life," says Buckler. "While square dancing you can only concentrate on the dance, and that has had the tendency to clear my mind completely of the stresses of the day. I have not yet come home from a square dance less happy that when I arrived! Square dancing truly is a circle of friends."

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