Last week thousands of you voted in my first ever ANGRY POLL where I asked you help settle an argument Victor and I were having.  The question was “Does eating powered sugar donuts make your mouth feel cold?

The results:

  • “Of course.  That’s just science.” = 26%
  • “Of course not.  What the hell is wrong with you?” = 26%
  • “Now I want donuts.  Thanks a lot, asshole.” = 40%

So basically the world can be divided into those whose mouths work properly and those whose don’t.  And those who just want donuts.  And those who answered “other” just to be purposely contrary.

For our second poll we’re moving to childhood because I insist that everyone in America was taught mandatory square dancing in elementary school and Victor just stares at me and shakes his head.

me:  This, Victor.  This is what everyone learned in music classes:

me: Who says white people can’t dance?

Victor:  Everyone who’s seen that video, to start with.


And now, time for the weekly wrap-up: Graphic by Round Table Companies Shit I made in my shop (Named “EIGHT POUNDS OF UNCUT COCAINE” so that your credit card bill will be more interesting.):

  • “BE NICE OR I WILL STAB YOU” plate.  Remind anyone eating at your place why they shouldn’t be shitty.  Bonus:  Since it’s dinner you are likely to be actually holding a knife when they get to the message at the bottom of their plate, so they’re even more likely to take you seriously.  Great for Thanksgiving.
  • Bloody drawstring backpack.  Perfect for wet swimsuits or small books or one large human head.  The wording is nice because it’s comforting but it also tells people you might be dangerous.  Also, good camouflage in case zombies attack.

Shit that I’m vaguely involved with on the internets:


Shit you should buy or steal because it’s awesome:

This week’s wrap-up is brought to you by Suburban Underbelly, a book by the lovely Michele Theron.  “For suburban moms Quinn, Jill, and Lucy, freedom from motherhood as a competitive sport starts innocently enough: three hours a week without kids.  Before they know it, things are careening out of control and their lives change in ways that they never could have imagined.  Sexy, snarky, smart and funny as hell–SUBURBAN UNDERBELLY invites you into a world with the best friends we all wish we had”.  Check it out here.

347 thoughts on “ANGRY POLLS (Volume II)

Read comments below or add one.

  1. I went to school in Texas so of course it was required learning! I have pictures of our 4th grade square dance that the school invited our parents to. Did you know there are square dance clubs for adults all over down here?!? My parents actually belong to one!

  2. I had square dancing units in gym class in both states I lived in as an elementary school student (West Virginia and Kansas.)

  3. I have this really strange vague possible memory of square dancing in school, but I was also raised pretty country and used to 2-step (6-step? See how bad my memory is?) around my coffee table when I was 5. So I opted for the “I can’t remember” option, but for the record — I think you’re right this time.

  4. 14 minutes of square-dancing?! I couldn’t watch it. I’m still trying to repress my memories of square-dancing in elementary school (which – BTW – was not too far from Redwood City, home of the Docey-Does) (OMG – They probably had something to do with it!!)

  5. Do-si-do baby!!

    My son’s class also learned to square dance. Unfortunately, there were more boys than girls, so some boys had to “be girls”. He got into a fist fight with the boy he’d been paired with. The teacher couldn’t stop laughing as she explained they both wanted to be “the girl” so they didn’t have to lead.

  6. I actually love that my son’s preschool had a Hoe-down. He said he “dominated” his partner. Took me awhile to realize he meant “promenade.”

  7. We had Scottish Country dancing lessons in secondary school, nothing similar in primary. (I went to school in the middle of nowhere, Scotland).

  8. I may just be stuck in some horrible nightmare, but I think our music teacher even made the girls put on one of those tragic skirts over our clothes. The whole thing was a complete train wreck.

  9. It can’t just be a countrified school thing because we had to learn to square dance in Seattle too. You’re totally right Jenny. Victor probably just blocked it out of his memory.

  10. In the UK country dancing was the thing – although my school did not partake of this ritual – so it was only introduced to me as ‘a thing that people did’ when I was In my 20s doing teacher training. I was suitably horrified.

  11. Yup, we did it in elementary PE class, outside, on the blacktop, during Florida heat. So very awkward.

  12. YES! I totally learned to square dance. Weirdly, it was part of our PE class in elementary school. (I grew up in the Texas panhandle.)

  13. ohmigod, when I read “bloody drawstring backpack” I didn’t realize it was a backpack with a drawstring and thought you were selling a bag with a used tampon motif – I was almost afraid to click on the link!

  14. We did not have mandatory square dancing. But when I was in seventh grade, we did have mandatory tinikling, which is much more fun to tell people you had to do together as a PE Class.

  15. You know you grew up in Texas, if you were part of a PTA show that involved do-si-dos. Remember? #texaspublicschoolweek

  16. I had to learn it during P.E. but I grew up in New York. They don’t do it in CA at my son’s school. I’m totally bringing this up to the head of the department now! 🙂

  17. Not only did we learn to square dance in school- we had a field trip to visit a local square dancing group….take that Victor!

  18. I grew up in Wisconsin, and it was a regular unit in gym class every year from kindergarten to graduation. We also learned to polka. Because….Wisconsin.

  19. All I know about square dancing is what I learned from Muppet Treasure Island:
    “Grab yer partners by the ears,
    Lash ’em to the wheel.
    Dosey doe, step on his toe,
    Listen to him squeal!
    Allemande left, allemande right,
    It’s time to sail or sink.
    Swing yer partner over the side
    And drop ‘im in the drink!”
    But somehow, I don’t think they were doing it right.

  20. I don’t know how long the practice continued afterward, but there was definitely mandatory square dancing when I was in elementary school during the late 1960s. (Santa Maria area, in Santa Barbara County, California.)

  21. I feel like we did it once? It wasn’t in music class but it was either gym class or something we did at recess. I can’t remember. It might have involved Pilgrims. Much of my childhood before the age of 10 is a blur. I think this is a blessing.

  22. I went to school in illinois. I don’t remember learning to square dance but I do remember learning to line dance in the gym. So i voted yes. Because chances are I learned but blocked it out lol

  23. I remember LOTS of square dancing…and am somewhat alarmed to realize that at the time I assumed it was something grownups were doing all the time…cuz obviously, that’s the only reason they’d bother to teach us, right?

  24. Mary Roach is awesome- it’s amazing how many times I can use references from her books in everyday conversations.

  25. There was a month during PE where we alternated days – MWF was aerobics, Tue and Thur was square dancing. Hard to remember what was worse – sweating in school clothes before noon and being funky (well, funkier) for the rest of the day or actually having to touch the hands of boys who thought I was too weird to exist (and the one notorious nose-picker, of course).

    Now I’m having flashbacks and need a glass of wine before noon. Thanks.

  26. My sixth grade class (Cardinal Spellman School, Bellevue, NE- HOLLA!) square danced so often for PE that we could do the Virginia Reel without the music. We would willingly square dance at recess during rainy days- is that normal? Yeah- I didn’t think so…

  27. I will say though that for us it was a requirement in phys. ed., not music. The best thing that could happen to you as a kid during square dancing week was something that necessitated crutches or quarantine.

  28. Not only was it mandatory, although for me it was in high school in Grade 10 (in Canada), but my father was the square dance teacher. Talk about awkward moments.

  29. So this comment is about nothing, but I saw you had linked your Be Nice or I will Stab You. I recently had a hysterectomy and am having wildly varying mood swings which are completely baffling my husband because prior to this, I was not at all hormonal. So being the poor clueless man that he is, and after my repeatedly explaining to him it was nothing personal, I just sometimes wanted to kill him painfully following his fifth time of asking me to find something that WAS RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIS NOSE and other such male behaviors, I bought your “Be Nice or I’ll Stab You” 8 x 10, framed it and put it on his office desk as a constant reminder that for the next 3 months or so, I am not entirely sane and not to push it. Thank you Jenny, you’ve probably saved my husbands life.

  30. No dancing at all in PE. And I grew up in TN! PE for us was softball every day it was nice out with short units on basketball or volleyball if it wasn’t.

    Ours was a town dominated by anti-dancing Baptists and Church of Christ. I cannot imagine the holy hell certain parents would have raised had a teacher tried to introduce mandatory social dancing in elementary school. I mean, most of those family’s’ kids went to school dances in high school, but I’m pretty sure they swore they were standing off to the side (they weren’t).

  31. Jr. High gym class in the 1970s in Upstate New York. We also did archery, which was just dangerous, but is now apparently cool.

    Anyone take jr. high home ec? I learned to mix Coke & milk & bake tuna sandwiches in a paper bag. Best part was stealing the eggs to throw at the kids who were outside doing archery.

  32. As a child of the 80s who attended various private and small schools (I once was taught solely by videotape for a year) I have never do-si-doed. It was probably Satans handiwork and when I was in public high school we did line dancing. Less chance of a sexual harassment claim… I assume.

  33. Square dancing was the highlight of the school year as it was the only time the boys and girls had gym (phys ed) together

  34. Went to school in a suburb near Milwaukee and we had square dancing as part of gym class every year in middle school. I can still hear the song in my nightmares… “76 trombones led the big parade… promonade left the circle…”

  35. We learned to square dance as a part of gym. It was in second grade, I think. Poor Coach.

  36. Forth grade gym class was square dancing however my knee was in a brace for four weeks so I didn’t get to learn it,(so sad….NOT!) however I still voted yes because it was mandatory..geez Victor where did you go to school?

  37. Im 28 and haven’t. I think this is more about age than geography. I know for a fact nowhere around here teaches it now.

  38. Every. Single. Year. In elementary school PE. Then we had a “performance” for the parents on a weeknight. And this wasn’t Texas. Oregon in the ’90s.

  39. In third grade, in Indiana, they taught us how to do the Macarena. That’s the only dance I ever learned.

  40. Even my English husband had to take square dancing. I answered “other” because I took it in 7th grade, which was Jr. High.

  41. I was taught square dancing in elementary school in P.E. here in Maryland. Neither of my kids had that wonderful experience, though.

  42. Oh, holy old cheezits. I’d successfully blocked those memories. Now I’m having flashbacks, will need copious amounts of booze and other minf altering chemicals to keep from curling up in the fetal position under my desk.

    I think you should pay for my therapy bill. Or buy me booze. Bringing up elementary school square dancing. shudder If the music and actual dancing wasn’t traumatic enough, theshuffling around to make sure to get away from that guy, or that girl…And, I *was that girl.

    Where’s my booze, damn it. Mommy has childhood memories to deal with.

  43. Just representing for south Alabama, in the early 80’s square dancing was part of 7th grade PE class.

  44. Yes! But we learned it in PE instead of music class. Our PE teacher would wear this hilarious square dancing shirt and take it all very seriously.

  45. So, public school in rural south-central Pennsylvania here. Not only did we learn square dancing in PE during 5th and 6th grades (which really sucks when you’re the least popular person in a class where there are more girls than boys twitch twitch), but in junior high school, we had to square dance, too. The bonus in junior high, though, was that we spent 6 weeks dancing and six weeks learning to shoot rifles at the school’s gun range.

    Not only that, but I led my class and later shot on the HS Varsity rifle team for two years. .22, prone, 99 8X, thank you very much.

    (I should probably mention that we also had a school holiday for the first day of Deer Season, often referred to as Thanksgiving Monday, or the Monday after Thanksgiving. My husband, from rural Indiana, was astonished that Thanksgiving Monday was a Thing.) (He did learn square dancing, though.)

  46. I answered yes, but it was high school. In fact, there’s a candid picture in my yearbook of me and my very tall partner square dancing. 40 years later and I still remember, “Allemande left with your left hand, a right to your partner and a right and left grand.” I have no idea how to do that, but I can say it.

  47. We were too puritanical to touch, we did nothing beyond line dancing and the chicken dance. I don’t think we were allowed such adult dancing until after sex-ed, by which point I couldn’t look anyone in the eye, let alone hold hands.

  48. I was just teaching a Customer Service class on Friday and something came up that made me say “Don’t worry, I won’t make you square dance.” All of the boomer and gen x’ers laughed. The young ones had no idea what’s wastalking about. Btw, square dancing day in 7th grade gym classics not the best day to stuff your shirt with cotton balls, especially when you don’t even own a bra to hold them in. Just offering up a tip for anyone who needs it!

  49. I grew up in Maryland and we had square dancing as part of PE. Usually we had records to follow as we danced. I remember one time in particular our teacher had to sing the song because the record player was broken…….it was awful!

  50. Not only in elementary school, but it was also required in middle school and high school gym class. Once I had to pretend I had something in my eye in order to hide in the bathroom for a while to escape being partnered with a boy with really slimy hands.

  51. Oh god, the nightmares. Some insane old lady in a gigantic short skirt that stuck straight out with five hundred petticoats came to our school every year and made us square dance to a song I can still remember 30 years later: “burgers and fries and cherry pies in a world we used to know….”

  52. I broke my foot the week before we were forced to dance in gym class. I got to sit that one out and watch everyone else awkwardly choose a dance partner.

  53. Square Dancing in 5th grade PE in Canada… What a nightmare! Why they make you try a dance that involves trying to twirl under your partner’s arm when all the girls have started to grow before the boys will forever mystify me. We did tinikling too… Come to think of it, I think the only thing anyone ever got out of dance class were bruised shins and ankles. I don’t THINK dance was supposed to double as a combat sport, but at my school it seemed to.

  54. The funniest thing about having to learn square dance (for me anyway) was that Doug Sharpe had a boy girl party for his 13th birthday at the community center. Many parents came too, and were hanging out at the other end of the hall. They must have got tired of watching us stand arounf girls on this side of the room, boys on that side, notdancing to the Grease soundtrack, and either the community center had records with square dance music, or some parent went home and got some. (This was in western NC, either of these things could be true). They played the same song we learned the Virginia Reel to. And you know what? We did. We danced the damn Virginia Reel, and a few other besides. After that, we had forgotten it was a boy and girl party, remembered we all had known each other for years, and had fun. Then we danced some more. Then we ate cake and junk food and made ‘mixed drinks’ by mixing different flavors of soda. That was the last time we just had fun at a party without having to spin bottles or sneak warm beer or booze past chaperones.

  55. I remember having to be the PE teacher’s partner for square dancing lessons as I was the tallest girl in 6th grade- Which is as bad as sounds! I even remember in Girl Scouts they had a yearly father-daughter square dance. We would rent those awful skirts to wear and had a professional “caller” brought it. The horror! I had blocked most of these painful memories….thanks for opening old wounds!

    Now in PE they learn the Electric Slide, YMCA, and country line dances. We teachers get invited to watch and join them. It’s way more fun that square dancing ever was.

  56. I hadn’t thought about it until this post, but yes, we had to do square dancing as part of PE in elementary school! and I grew up in Los Angeles in the 80’s. But then again, I went to a somewhat strange private school.

  57. I’m not even from the “country” and we did this! Catholic school in Los Angeles in the 80s. I don’t think I’ve thought of it since then…

  58. I actually love all kinds of dancing that require specific, practiced moves with a partner. I would have been great in the days of the Minuette (dammit can’t spell it). So, I secretly loved learning the Virginia Reel in fourth grade with my sweaty-handed partner.

  59. YES to the square dancing. PE class, elementary school, east central Ohio, early-mid 1970s. I hated EVERY SINGLE SECOND OF IT.

  60. It was punishment for those of us who didn’t want to go die on the ski slope. You had a choice: square dancing or ski lessons. Before you think, “Cool, ski lessons!”, the lessons were taught at an extreme discount by ski instructors who laughed when one of my friends went off the trail into the trees. It took me years before I ever skied again. The next few years I picked Death by Do-si-do.

  61. Pshaw. In Wyoming, not only did we learn to square dance, we also learned the Virginia Reel.

  62. Growing up in So. Cal in the 50’s, it was mandatory. But my fourth grade teacher, Mr. Akins, also taught us the hula since he’d been to Hawaii on vacation the summer before. I can still remember the moves after almost 60 years. “Oh, we’re goin’…to a hukilau…” Only time I ever got an “A” in music. Loved that man…

  63. We did the square dancing thing in P.E., but sans boys. Half the girls in the class had to wear the flag belt from flag football and dance the “boys” parts. Classy!

  64. Oh square dancing. It was as gym requirement. Only despised more by the swim requirement. Not that swimming was bad. But for gym? In the middle of the school day? With 20 other teenagers trying to all be modest. Yeah…sucked.

    And Stiff is my favorite Mary Roach book too!

  65. We had to square dance in elementary school & middle school. Except for us, it was part of PE, not music class. We also had to line dance in middle school. I’m pretty sure they hated kids & had a committee that did nothing but think up ways to make us miserable.

  66. Yes, we learned square dancing in elementary in the 70’s. I found it odd that our pastors wife taught it to us in spite of being “anti dancing”. Later on, everyone in my very small town joined an actual square dance club, children included. There is no pictorial evidence (I hope) but we all purchased, and wore, square dancing outfits complete with enormous petticoats for the women and girls and gaudy shirts and bolo ties for the men and boys I am now freshly mortified. I’m in Texas, btw.

  67. It wasn’t square dancing in music class in elementary school, it was line dancing (“Achy breaky heart”) in PE class in middle school.

  68. I am the most unathletic person in the world and I went to a school that worshiped sports. So I elected every non athletic option given. I can bossa nova, hava Nagila, Virginia reel, and stroll like a mother fucker.

  69. Even up north in Groton, CT they were forcing us all to square dance in third grade. shudders

  70. I’m like, 99% sure the only square dancing I did as a kid in the 80s was in Girl Scouts. We might have done it in elementary school gym class once. Maybe.

  71. My hick ass elementary school in New York made us do this in gym class… It was everyone’s most dreaded gym class. Why would you do this to little kids? Just give us the big red ball and let us go back to seeing who would come out of gym with the most welts. I can think of what lesson square dancing was supposed to teach. Maybe that you probably wouldn’t actually get cooties? At least the climb the rope class was a chance to experience complete failure in public.. And understand you don’t actually did from it… Even if it feels like it at the time.

  72. Hell yeah. Gym class in Minnesota. I can still hear the music and still feel the panic as I tried to figure out how to get myself partnered with my crush du jour. And then trying to look cool and sexy WHILE SQUARE DANCING.

    Why, God? Why?

  73. It was high school and P.E. class, but yes, we had it. (1980’s, Phoenix, AZ.) Sadly, my little group of 8 was actually good at it, so we ended up being used as the “example” group whenever a move was added.

  74. Yes! Bitches Gotta Eat AND Stiff?! You are playing directly to my interested (though I’ve already read these both, EVERYONE should also do so!). I went through the whole back catalogue of Bitches Gotta Eat recently, which was great fun.

  75. I was born and raised in Austin and we totally learned how to square dance but I think it was in PE, not music.

  76. As a Canadian I can vouch for square dancing being taught to me since the age of six. Every year.
    And yet I can still only half remember the steps to Slap Leather.

  77. Yep. It was in PE in KY that I learned. And we could never keep up with the teacher’s calls so we’d end up crashing in the middle and falling all over each other. It was a big cluster f___.

  78. omg. thanks (not) for the memories. I think I had blocked this out. it was so awkward, and I never was good with right and left anyways, and the boys’ hands were always sweaty…..ack! (Of course as a teacher years later I totally taught my grade 2s how to square dance).

  79. I had it in gym class in New Jersey for at least 3-4 years. Very non-redneck schools. I still remember having to pass the dancing “tests” at the end of the year in 8th grade in order to go to high school. Ah, my first panic attack! I can still dance like that though.

  80. I had to vote OTHER because while we did have mandatory square dancing, it was not until high school PE classes. Guess our awkward grade school bodies were not graceful enough? It was even more horrifying at an older age. Should have been considered child abuse!

    I am also concerned about the mousie taxidermy. While she clearly states that no mice were murdered for art, how does she know so many elderly end of life mice? She must be hanging out at mousie old folks homes, or something. Makes me wonder….

  81. Western PA, God, yes. One 6 week period in at least 7th & 8th grade gym. If I rememember correctly, just the girls’ PE class. Somewhere is a picture of my now 40+ year old children engaged in full regalia square dancing like their lives depended on it.

  82. We had to learn “The Hustle” too.. Dododododododododododododo do the hustle dodododododododododododododododododododo the hustle!

  83. Gym class in Saskatchewan, Canada. You bet your swingin’ partner’s butt we did square dancing. And line dancing a little later on. I loved it. Because I couldn’t lose at it and didn’t suck worse than anyone else. And best of all, even when I did trip on my two left feet, no one gave a shit, because everyone hated it. No mockery! Best gym theme ever.

  84. I’m not gonna lie. I HATED the square dancing unit in P.E. I mean… why are they teaching square dancing in P.E.? But… a couple of years ago, I randomly came across a public square dancing event in Bryant Park in New York City. Anyone could participate. And grown adults were square dancing their hearts out and laughing out loud with complete strangers while an awesome band played and some old dude screamed out terms that we were supposed to have learned in grade school (in P.E., I guess). We were all messing it up and running into each other. It was the most awesome form of square dancing ever. P.E. teachers everywhere should’ve taken note!

  85. As a Californian of a particular age, we had mandatory square dance for about 4 weeks, until Prop 13 killed all of our arts funds and there were no more school-sponsored dance classes.

  86. The best part of square dancing in a small town in northern MN for an uncoordinated, coke-bottle glasses girl who towered over all the other dancers? Attempting to NOT feel grossly weird trying to promenade with a boy who barely stands waist-height to me. Thank GOD we never had to wear the flurfly dresses…and I’m eternally grateful no one took any pictures.

  87. Learning to square dance is a contender for least favorite memory of elementary school, right up there with the time I got my two front teeth knocked out by a basketball and the time I blew a huge snot bubble out my nose during a spelling bee and the time I burned my ass on a metal slide during recess.

    I should probably sue my childhood for emotional trauma.

  88. Um, hello, just had to teach square dancing to a bunch of 4th graders in June because I was the only parent to volunteer for that. Lots of internet research and YouTube videos helped but it was still a hot mess.

  89. Of course we learned square dancing in elementary! What kind of snobby-ass school did Victor go to that he got to escape the torture of being paired with the smelly kid (because he/she was the only one as tall as you) for the mandatory humiliation?

  90. I think you should rename the bloody drawstring backpack because it conjures the image of used tampons. Then again it did get me to click on the link, so it could be a win.

  91. We definitely did square dancing in PE, but I assumed it was just a “you’re in the South, how else do you plan to get a good feller if you can’t do-si-do?” kind of thing.

  92. I had blocked it out until now… Funny, I thought the only memories we repressed were traumatic ones? Unless…Oh God I’m being flooded with memories of sweaty palms! It’s like holding the ocean with a rake!

  93. I’m Canadian. I was forced to promenade left and always ended up with the school principal as my partner. I was always picked second last for everything. I may have been the teacher’s pet.

  94. It was junior high, not elementary school. However, it wasn’t called square dancing because we had lots of students whose churches didn’t allow dancing. They called it folk games instead. And just to be absolutely sure no one had any fun, the folk games were conducted in girls’ gym class only. Half of us wore blue “pinnies” and did the boys’ part. It was better than most of the other parts of gym, but only because I was slightly better at it than any sport, and it was less boring than exercise.

  95. Canadian all girls school and still had square dancing in PE. And football.

    There are some schools (in BC Canada at least) that have ukulele as part of the elementary school. We had recorder. I can play a mean hot cross buns.

  96. I went to school in a small town outside Toronto (Ontario, Canada) . I still remember 50 years later. Allemand left & dosido…. I thought all girls had square dancing. The boys didn’t. No sense there..

  97. I went to high school in a small town in Texas that is 95% Czech so we learned to Polka instead of square dance. Lucky for me, I was raised in a Czech family and spent many Saturday nights sleeping on the floor in the corner of an SPJST Lodge, so I was taught how to polka at an early age. I fucking schooled that Polka class.

  98. Elementary school? Had to f%$#%^$% square dance pre-K through 12th grade in my school. They hated us, and all those years of square dancing later, the feeling is mutual. Anyone says those words and I get stabby.

  99. By the late ’60s square dance was no longer mandatory in Texas elementary school P.E.; I certainly never got it there. I volunteered to learn at the end of the ’70s, danced until about ’96 when my feet and knees gave out.

    And the video you found is very obviously a mid-’50s group. The calls and movements are very characteristic, as are the costumes. It’s the kind of square dance my parents and grandparents did sixty years ago, and nothing that my daughter (now the fourth generation of square dancers in the family) would recognize.

  100. I absolutely learned how to square dance in elementary school! It was the law in California. Take that, Victor! Also….THANK YOU for “bitches gotta eat”. It is now bookmarked and my sides hurt from laughing.

  101. The conversation is always the same. If someone who was taught square dancing in school reveals this to someone who wasn’t, the square-dance-less person doesn’t believe you.

  102. I couldn’t get past the misspelling of do-si-do.

    Square dancing was actually one of my least-unfavorite gym activities because I was, for once, not terribly worse at it than anyone else was. I went to school in the Chicago suburbs in the 1970s.

  103. I’m British, not American, but we got taught country dancing, which is surely the same thing. Except it was only the girls, so then the taller girls had to dance as boys. I hated having to be a boy.
    I got to dance at a royal show though, which was cool.

  104. Oh god yes and I live in Australia! I remember embarrassing dance lessons in P.E where you had to dance with a boy even if you knew you were going to get boy cooties. And hold hands! How awful that was when you were 10 and boys were yucky.

  105. They made me do this for entire 9-week grading period in high school. Only thing that makes this tolerable….is my daughter is about to start the same high school, and they still do it. Mooooo ha ha ha… Revenge for every rolled eye.

  106. I grew up in Texas, and we had to practice our square-dancing for a parent-teacher show. Fun.

  107. No square dancing but we were taught to jig at St. Patrick’s. Seriously.

  108. White Plains NY, circa 1954- in gym class we learned to square dance, jitterbug and Lindy hop. We all also went to “Dancing School” after school to learn ballroom and how to be ladies and gentleman at a dance. In Florida my kids didn’t learn to dance at school, but they did go to “Cotillion” the southern version of dancing school. Both they and I liked it, not least because boys were taught how to ask for a dance and girls were taught how to respond politely. A good skill to have as an adolescent and adult.

  109. We also had to learn in our 9th grade PE class – awkward!
    In an unrelated note – I was in 2nd grade in 1976 & had to be George Washington in our presentation & had to learn some kind of 18th century dance along with costume & white wig).

  110. Oh, and at my Calvinist high school, we were forbidden to have school dances (my year we did actually get a square dance, only my date and I chickened out and went for pizza instead). My gym teacher did a unit on dancing with us Freshman year and swore us to secrecy. She said that the official name for the unit was “aerobics” and we were expected to stick with that story.

  111. No square dancing, but I remember one polka dance lesson! Northeast PA baby! Oompa oompa!

  112. Twelve. Years. Of square dancing. Even in high school. Because in Pennsylvania, the PE program is run by sadists. I graduated in 1995, not the dark ages. I’m still scarred.

  113. We had to do it in gym class every year through elementary school in Canada too. Do-si-do & bow to your partner!

  114. I didn’t learn square dancing in music class. My school apparently took it much more seriously and thought it to be a sport so we learned it in P. E.. So I could probably kick some major ass in some square dancing. You know, if I wasn’t such a klutz and stuff LOL.

  115. I lived in Tucson during this particular age when kids learn this stuff. We learned some square dancing and some folk dancing. It was one of my favorite things. We didn’t quite learn anything as involved as in the video, unfortunately. But it looks like great fun! Count me in.

  116. Oh yeah and you always got that kid who had the clammy hands, who kept wiping them on his pant leg but to no avail. Or you got the kid who wheezed from the strain of the do-si-do. We had two male gym teachers/coaches, the one who only have sweatsuits and t-shirts in their closets. We would tell them we just didn’t get the step so they would have to demonstrate by dancing with each other. Payback’s a bitch man yet oh so gratifying for those of us that got clammy hands and wheezy.

  117. No square dancing in school here… We did however have the annual Brownie/Girl Scout father-daughter square dance which I had blessedly put out of my mind until now…

  118. I forgot to mention that this was in Georgia, just outside of Atlanta. And they taught it for several years. I think all the way from first through eight grades. I guess they wanted to make sure we knew what to do if we were captured by a band of square dancers LOL.

  119. Canada votes YES. (I am speaking for all of Canada, based upon my high shool experience where we had this dance unit, and square dancing was – I think – involved.) ~Catherine

  120. @TexasTrailerParkTrash (72)—my Grandfather played the guitar and loved the Hukilau! Thanks for that memory!!!

    In my suburban Chicago grade school, we had Music class (bless you Miss Blakely) and also learned some dancing, like the Virginia Reel and the Hora (which left me with a lifelong love of Hava Nagilah!) and another cool circle dance that used the ‘grapevine’ step and all the kids liked—we called it “Mayim” because that was like the chorus of the song (“Mayim….mayim…bless my soul..” is all I remember).

    Like a lot of others here, Junior High Gym class was Square Dancing time. Gee, thanks for reminding me I was as unappealing to boys then as I am to men now. Maybe it scarred me, LOL!

  121. When we square danced in PE, and we locked elbows, the boys would try to fling the girls. I remember square dancing involving a lot of pent up aggression.

    And, you can’t really have one Mouseketeer … How can they be, “All for one, and one for all” if there is only one?

  122. Gym class in Canada (B.C.) in the early ’70’s for me….gym class now for my kids as well (still B.C.)!

  123. It was gym class for me, not music class. In music class we got to dance to the song Popcorn–surely you must remember this? It was sort of like a line dance except that you just stood in place. Most important, the “Popcorn” dance didn’t require you to have a partner or touch anyone, which made it infinitely better than square dancing. I cannot speak of the horrors of square dancing.

  124. Junior high in the 60s in Los Angeles it was required in gym class. I hated it but probably everyone else did too.

  125. I learned to square dance in PE in central Ohio in the 90s. I sincerely thought I didn’t, and you were nuts, but watching that video apparently unleashed some repreassed memories. So now I have to remember that. Thanks. For the record, we also learned line dancing in 8th grade in Virginia.

  126. I read Hick-Ass as Kick-Ass, which I think should be an option in the poll.

  127. CANADIAN and I can assure you even in early 80’s in wasnt taught in our schools. Starting to wonder what kind of hick town schools my fellow Canadians who’ve commented here went to …

  128. I’m in the UK and I was in the square dancing team in my junior school. There were events and competitions.

  129. No square dancing in elementary school but my school had a pool so we had swimming lessons instead. My mother must have felt some part of our education was missing though as she signed us up for private square dancing lessons. The classes were in the basement of a small bungalow located behind the hockey arena up the street from our house. I think I was around 9 years old. The thing I remember the most was that during one class the caller made a strange call…something like “the bear went over the mountain” and my “MUCH OLDER” partner (he was probably 14 or 15) picked me up in a hug and swung me around…OMG!!! So embarrassing…and I think I fell a bit in love with him. His name was Duncan. He had a twin brother and he wore those checked cowboy shirts with the snaps. The lessons didn’t last long. I did learn the electric slide in middle school so I got that going for me.

  130. Growing up in the Las Vegas (Nevada, not New Mexico) area, it gets deathly hot outside. (Though it probably does in New Mexico too.) So the “brilliant” minds of the P.E. & music teachers collaborated to bring us the all-terrible dance unit in elementary school. Not positive, but I think this form of torture was inflicted on all the grades. It had the benefit of keeping us inside during the summer (year-round school) however, it was three times a week. gag can’t remember if square dancing was part of it. There was lots of line dancing. And circle ones. Probably was square dancing, if only to be geometric like. 😉

  131. In Scotland we had Scottish Country dancing lessons from primary through to secondary school.
    (A) As young teenagers we had to partner up well in advance of the actual PE session – I’m talking weeks in advance if you wanted to get someone socially-desirable (although a skanky boy was better than no boy). It didn’t much matter if you were unpartnered for the subsequent lessons, but it would be a complete disaster if you showed up to lesson 1 without a guaranteed partner. This was very stressful since it highlighted the school pecking order – popular people got paired up quickest and easiest.
    (B) The amount of kids with sick notes to excuse themselves from PE quadrupled during the dancing months. In my brother’s year the PE teachers snapped and just told all the “sick” kids that they had to dance, anyway.
    (C) Once I’d gotten over the severe social stigma and trauma associated with these lessons, I actually quite enjoyed Scottish Country dancing. And I still do.

  132. Square dancing was ok! weightlifting was the worst. So boring! One year we did swing instead of square and it was fantastic.

  133. No square dancing but lots of dodge ball. I went to a Parochial school, we couldn’t touch each other but we could attempt to kill each other with large inflated playground balls.

  134. I opted for “I can’t remember” because what we learned in music class was the Virginia Reel, since we were in Virginia, and that is a line dance rather than a square dance. But still, enforced dance lessons in grade school, yes. Don’t know how Victor missed it.

  135. Yes, we learned to square dance in elementary school P.E. Clearly, I grew up in hick-ass West Texas like you did.

    My most embarrassing confession: I actually enjoyed square dancing,

  136. We even had square dancing at school in Australia. Must be some sort of universal torture…
    Yes you should definitely buy 3 mouseketeers! Otherwise what would be the point?? I have a cat called Mouse. Sometimes I call her MouseCATeer – one of her is enough though!

  137. I went to school in the suburbs of Washington DC and can affirm that even in our great capital city were were forced to square dance in the sixth grade. I am traumatized to this day by the results of a particularly energetic “swing your partner!”

  138. Tammy in PDX – I answered ‘other’ because although we did some square dancing in elementary school, my college offered square dancing as one class toward PE credit, at at the end of the semester had a professional caller come in for a school-wide dance.

  139. I grew up in a NYC suburb and I’m pretty sure even WE had to learn square dancing in elementary school.

  140. I have lived in Texas all my life but we never square danced. We DID have one gym class day where we were taught line dancing. Especially with Don’t Break My Heart being on the top 10 during that period of time.

  141. I have always lived in Texas and we never square danced. We DID have one gym class day where we learned line dancing. Don’t Break My Heart was all the rage at the time so I suppose it makes sense why.

  142. I live in Australia and we even had to do it here from K-6 class. Except we called it bush dancing. Every Friday afternoon out on the quad (in warmer months). The school used to hold farewell dances at the end of 6th class and this was the dancing. We weren’t able to have ‘normal’ music just freekin ‘bush dancing’ the whole night. Horrid.

  143. Mary Roach’s books are absolutely fantastic. Beautifully researched – and funny. Doesn’t get much better.

  144. I’m from Canada (and nowhere near cowboy country either) and we had to learn both square AND line dancing.

  145. Square dancing in school. Of course. I have fond memories of square dancing in junior high. My first inkling that I was a lesbian, square dancing was a great way to actually touch another a girl. Used to practice kissing a lot too. Ahhh fond memories.

  146. Upstate NY – we had to take square dancing that that awkward age when many of the girls were taller than the boys. Because touching each other in middle schools wasn’t bad enough. My husband, in another part of upstate NY also had to learn. I wonder if it was just a rural thing…

    BTW, you are TOTALLY right about needing 2 more mouseketeers. What kind of heathen is he to not realize that they must come in 3s?

  147. My husband had to do it too. Of course he went to the same schools I did, so I don’t know if his vote counts as a separate vote than mine. What kind of yuppie school did Victor go to?

  148. Oh yes we (square)-danced in 7th or 8th grade until the boys ganged together and refused so the teacher lined the up and marched them to the principle’s office for several class sessions running. I envied them having the courage to deny the command to do-si-doe.

  149. We didn’t square dance at school, but I definitely attended small-town community functions where ALL THE ADULTS DID. All of them. Every single one. WHY did they all know how to do that? And that direction-giving singer guy. I could never make sense of him. I figured he worked these events when he wasn’t auctioneer-ing. Like practice or something.

  150. Apparently I failed earlier at “leave a comment” but to spin this horror wheel of square dancing gym class memories to the side of good not evil, and best elementary school gym class memories, (before square dancing, dodge ball, and climbing the damn rope) did y’all get to do the parachute thing in like first grade? Gym class could only get worse from there. Cause parachute thing = sheer unmatched awesomeness.

  151. I always enjoy looking at your Zazzle products. And I have a request. Actually, any of the awesome group of people who comment here could fulfill my wish. I want a decal I can put on my son’s wheelchair that makes us seem more badass, but not, like, un-friendly when we’re out. When we travel outside of our community of people who know us (especially in airports or stores), I want to send the message that I welcome assistance and conversations with strangers and questions from kids but not stares or “what’s wrong with him” from adults. (You’d be surprised.) I want to send the message that he’s great, we’re great. Just a happy family out and about. Also, don’t you dare park in that handicap spot or I will cut a bitch. (You know, unless you also have a permit.) I should mention that he’s four and starting to look different, but in a way that people can’t put their finger on. (Other people’s discomfort is hilarious, no?) So, I wouldn’t encourage my four year old to swear at strangers using his wheelchair. (ex. “what the fuck are you looking at?” ) I don’t think he would be allowed to sport that at school! Although it would be pretty funny. Anyway, I’d love to hear some suggestions or see a design turn up on Zazzle just for us! (And lots of kids like ours!)

    (Your kid sounds awesome. I have a friend who has this on his wheelchair: Or maybe something like this: ? ~ Jenny)

  152. Not only did we have to square dance, we were also taught an awkward line dance to the Oak Ridge Boys’ song Elvira. Mmm poppa, mmm poppa, mmm poppa, maw maw… Ugh.

  153. Square dancing in Maryland. I hadn’t thought about those lessons since elementary school. A loooooooong fucking time ago. The just last week something kicked a memory lose and I sat there questioning why the fuck we had square dancing lessons in Annapolis, MD. Like we are some “Don’t Tread on Me” bastion of southern “hospitality”. Weird you brought it up to. I like that about you.

    Bitches Gotta Eat? Has me squealing with delight. You just made my Sunday night.

  154. Love your poll!! I remember a 3rd grade father-daughter square dance, too. Sadly, I am a music teacher now, and I don’t teach square dance. Neither does the gym teacher (I learned in gym class). We just don’t have the time. Sigh… I would love to see my multi–national students square dance!

  155. I had square dancing in high school, and it was only the girls who had to do it. Sexism at its goofiest. I just remember the ridiculous song “Now promenade your honey, once around the square!” Shudder.

  156. Yep square dancing in the state of Washington mandatory in sixth grade. You weren’t allowed to refuse if a boy asked you, and Jimmy Urwin asked me! Ugh! He was the red haired freckle faced kid who was always getting in trouble, and gettin hacks out in the hall. I never ever broke any rules. I have always been cursed with being nice to people, even the Jimmy Urwins of the world, so maybe it was my fault, but sweaty hands! Ew! Then when I was sixteen I went to Germany with a school group and we had to square dance as part of sharing our American culture.

  157. I remember square dancing! Taught you to listen carefully. Was fun & funny!! My Grandmother talked about barn dances every Sat. night as a teen ager & young woman. Loved it , Was the only social time in Northern Ont. farm country.

  158. Victor, we learn square dancing in Australia too. Hell, even Eminem does it. He wrote a song about it:

    “I’m past bluffing, pass the KY
    Let’s get ready for some intense serious ass fucking!
    Dr. Dre wants to square dance with me
    Nasty Nas wants to square dance with me
    X to the Z wants to square dance with me
    Busta Rhymes wants to square dance with me.”

    You’re welcome xx

  159. For two or three years in elementary school P.E. in Florida. I also took clogging on my own time and performed in the xmas parade, gingham skirt and all. Anyway years later I went to teach English in China after college and us American teachers were able to piece together enough of our distant square dancing memories to put on a while hog performance for our students!

  160. I was taught it during the brief time I went to an American school in the United Arab Emirates. United ARAB EMIRATES. It is clearly a thing.

  161. I initially said “no”, but then I started remembering things that I apparently had blocked out due to trauma. So yeah, square dance was definitely a thing in Oklahoma when I was growing up.

    I’m confused about that “bloody drawstring backpack”. The drawstrings don’t look bloody to me. Or is that a British description, like “freaking drawstring backpack”?

  162. Square dancing in elementary school, then country line dancing class in middle school gym class. And due to the confusion of my having a name that is largely associated with males, I was put into a boys gym class. Then, because all of the girls classes were full, they just moved three other girls in and pretended they’d always intended the class to be co-ed. AND this was the mid-nineties so to add even more insult to all this injury, we had to do the Macarena as well. FOR A GRADE. Yeah. True story.

  163. Grade school, South Jersey,the 1970’s. Gym class. Didn’t want to touch the boys (cooties) and the strange commands and weird lyrics of the songs were strange, and then they would go faster and faster and I d get all messed up. I was so upset I couldn’t do it perfectly. But thank God they didn’t make us wear the costumes, that probably would have sent me ovet the edge.
    And on Saturday Soul Train would come on and that’s the kind of dancing that looked fun to me.
    That is why this white girl can’t dance. All square dancing is is stomping around and flopping one’s arms.

  164. I went to public school in Kansas City, KS, from 1985 until 1998 and I don’t remember ever having to square dance in any class. I just asked my 14-year-old daughter (who is currently going to public school in Kansas) if she’s ever had to square dance in gym class or music class and her response was “No. You’re watching Good Luck Charlie, aren’t you?”

    Also, Mary Roach is amazing. I have every one of her books, and I have to agree, Stiff is my favorite. Probably because it was my first.

  165. Oddly, in rural KY, square dancing was part of phys. ed, not music class. If I remember correctly, it was somewhere between dodge ball and climbing those stupid ropes – lasted about 6 weeks.

  166. Vancouver, BC. CANADA.

    Mandatory in elementary AND high school. We also had line dancing right after square dancing. Standard PE unit.

  167. Not only did we square dance, we also had to line dance. And when my gym teacher moved to the high school, the new gym teacher didn’t believe in competition. So we did stuff like this, and team building exercises, and things like looked like P90X: Elementary Edition.

  168. We did this in gym class. They used The song “Windy” while the boys and girls paired up. That song still gives me flashbacks when I hear it. Boys, yuck!

  169. It was mandatory here in Ohio. Can’t remember if it was gym class or music though. I do remember always being stuck with someone I hated and how awkward it was.

  170. I went to private school in a hippie arty town in Northern California and we still had to do square dancing. 1994, I think.

  171. Those are some good square dancers in the video. It might have been a lot more fun in PE if we hadn’t all been terrible. These days all my friends do Contra dancing, which is very similar, but you aren’t limited to four-couple squares.

  172. We had an unfortunately unbalanced female to male ratio, which meant only the “popular” girls got to dance with actual boys…. The rest of us got to hold hands with other girls.

  173. You’re pushing me to a snort-laugh, which is very unattractive but so appropriate here. Square dancing. I forgot about being crammed into a tiny little room with 30-some other children and having Tom Fay pretty much fling me airborne at age 12. You’ve made my night:).

  174. Yes. And I didn’t even live in America! I’m in Australia!!!! And the painful memories have ALL been brought back up! Tell Victor thanks for the memories.

  175. I never had any kind of dance in school. I have taken dance at studios but never in regular school. I didn’t know they did that! Of all the different types of dance I have taken square dance is one of they few I never did. And have absolutely no desire to! Just not my thing 🙂

  176. Squaredancing — yup, totally. But I thought it was something that broke-ass Catholic schools did when they couldn’t afford a real Gym Teacher (like soccer). I grew tall before all the rest of the girls, so with my ultra short pikie shag I got to stand in for the dude shortage. Not the best thing when you’re different from everyone else and questioning who you’ll be in the future.

  177. I missed the first poll, but miracle of miracles, I just ate a powdered donut!! And just FYI, my mouth isn’t cold, it’s… silky.

  178. and line dancing! da nuh nuh nuh cotten eye joe!
    Kentucky public schools!

  179. I’m fairly certain we never learned square dancing. But I’ve repressed a lot of my childhood for good reason.

  180. The only thing that made square dancing with the boys in sixth grade bearable was that my partner Warren had me laughing so hard by our over exaggerated doesy-does, that we both got detention

  181. I was one of eight fourth graders who learned a special routine (beyond what we learned in gym class) to perform at the Spring Fling. We had gingham pinafores, and the boys had gingham bow ties, and we danced to “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head.” I remember the first verse vividly. “Four-lady chain across the ring. You chain her back home again and spin that girl you know. Circle left we go, now. Reverse in single file and raindrops keep falling.” It was a beautiful thing!

  182. My mom was my elementary school PE teacher. She would always put me with the nerdiest guy in our class and dare me (with her eyes) to say a word about it. I also took square dancing in college. A friend talked me into it. It ended up being fun!

  183. Victor is wrong. You definitely need a whole set of mouseketeers. Just one is not enough. Doesn’t he want you to have a complete set? It’s like having just one ninja turtle and not having his buddies to eat pizza with and shit! You need two more mouseketeers!!

  184. There are four musketeers – you need two more. Tell Victor they won’t be as valuable unless you have the whole set. It’s an investment, really.

  185. I totally pictured something else when I read “bloody drawstring backpack”.
    And Mary Roach’s Stiff is one of my favorite books EVA! The footnotes make the book.

  186. I think I must’ve blocked out all memory of square dancing in school, and was actually part way through saying (to myself), “What the in hell is she talking about?”, when suddenly the whole “experience” came flooding back.

  187. What I remember about square dancing (one week per year, grades 5-9, P.E. class, Eureka, Ca., early ’70s) is having held hands (briefly) with every girl in the class with the certainty that they’d hated it. I wanted to like it… Then there was the gym coach who told us: Listen, if you don’t like these girls, there must be something wrong with you.
    Not only is Mary Roach da bomb, but she lives here in Oakland.

  188. We had to square dance in the suburbs of Boston too. But did you also have to do the bamboo stick dance?(that’s what the internet calls it). Required young children to have rhythm and there was a good chance of getting your ankles smashed between two long bamboo poles.

  189. I am from Texas, and, even I have no idea how square dancing works. It seems about as complicated as astrophysics but with far less “real world” applications.

  190. I’m in the UK, but the first school I ever went to had ballet lessons for the girls while the boys did something more academic. I absolutely loathed ballet and got my mum to write in so that the school would let me do the extra maths lesson with the boys instead. Sometime after I left, the school made ballet optional for both genders. I like to think that I was part of the cause of that.

  191. “And we all join hands and we circle the ring…stop where you are, give your partner a swing the girl beside you…and swing your own, and keep in time to music too…”
    YUP. Flag Day at my elementary school. And before people think “Oh those silly hicks in the middle of the country..” Please understand that I live in New York City! So, I have no explanation. None. Just many, MANY questions.

  192. Get this. I went to an international American school in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Yes, that Saudi Arabia). Great school, and full of expat kids from all over the world. And even there, we had to learn to square dance in elementary PE class. Awkwardness abound. I was never happier than when that unit was over.

    This is definitely mandatory. I throw my vote with the “Victor has repressed memories” crowd.

  193. I don’t know what I thought the “bloody drawstring backpack” was going to be, but that’s not it. Either way, now I want it.
    Please excuse me while I Do-Si-Do away from my computer because THIS MUSIC.

  194. I’m British and yes, we had to do this at both my boarding school and my state school. they called it “country dancing” though, and I had totally forgotten it (i.e. blanked it out) until my friends had a ceilidh at their wedding and I learned that I did, indeed, know how to do-si-do like a motherfucker.

  195. Why oh why were we tortured? I had to square dance in 5th or 6th grade in California. It was humiliating…always got paired up with the dorkyist kid. Well, hell, I was a dork myself.

  196. For the record, those of us who grew up in England were occasionally subjected to this:

    Although gym classes were normally split by gender, when it was country dancing time you bet the teachers dragged the boys into it. So much better than circuit training!

  197. As if square dancing in Long Island in the 1970s wasn’t enough, they had us tie coffeecans to our feet and dance on mini-stilts. I am not making this up…at least I don’t think I am… come to think of it, it does sound like a nightmare…I think I’ll check in with friends from elementary school!

  198. Not only elementary school, but also junior high and high school square dancing!
    As a non-athletic youth, it was kind of a reprieve from more humiliating sport-like things, but my friends and I always shuddered when we had to touch the guys with sweaty hands.

  199. Yup. Has square dancing in the gym right after we watched the Mickey/Minnie films on “what the hell is happening to my body and what do I do with it ” films. It was an awkward year – not a Lott of use for the square dancing over the years, but thanks, Minnie.

  200. We definitely square danced in Chicago. I think we even had a refresher unit in HS gym when we hit the dance unit. Now what about the recorder…

  201. We learned in middle school. We were not happy about it.

    The worst part was the “final exam”. The boys on one side of the gym. The girls on the other. The teacher would call four girls. (or four boys) Then we would have to walk across the gym to pick our partner! In front of everyone!!!!! Then, the 8 of us would dance in front of the WHOLE CLASS for our final grade.

    Mortifying. If you picked the boy you had a crush on – EVERYONE would know. If you picked a cute one, everyone would think you have a crush on him. If you picked an ugly one, everyone would think you had a crush on him. If you picked your best buddy, everyone would think you had a crush on him. Ugh…the adolescent horror!!!

    Plus, if you were asked to dance, you couldn’t say no. Even if that particular boy had slimy, clammy, nasty hands – an a boogery nose. (this is what happened to me! I am still scarred. Good think I got to wash off his germs in a cold group shower and stand in line to wait for my towel!)

  202. Fourth grade, upstate New York in 1977 we had square dancing lessons in PE and a hoedown. But the worst was my high school PE. My teacher who a rabid polka fan. High school was bad enough, but mandatory polka dancing in 10th grade was miserable!

  203. Not only did I learn to square dance at school, we did it in Girl Scouts and I got a college Phys Ed credit for taking a square dancing class.

  204. I also went to school in Texas, and it was required, and also, my high school had a competive country dancing team. So, tell Victor it isn’t just a skill, it can also be a sport. (I was not on said team, just to clarify.)

  205. One of my favorite memories is of a father-daughter square dance!! There better be square dances for my kids when the time comes!!

  206. I’m still hungry from the last poll. Isn’t do-si-do a girl scout cookie?

  207. Ahh…5th Grade!!! I was the tall girl in class so I got pared up with the most skinny tall awkward boy. I threw that poor kid around the dance floor. Then my boys took ball room dancing in 5th grade and THAT is a sight to behold!!! Just knowing that awkwardness at any level is passed down through generations. Good Memories!!!

  208. So, fun fact, while there are great and fun things about American Folk Dancing/Square Dancing, the reason why it was originally incorporated into school curriculum is due to the efforts of Henry Ford in the 1920s. Ford was a complicated man, so this tradition carries a lot of that baggage. He saw square dancing as the only pure Anglo-Saxon dance form and wanted families and children to embrace it as a way to combat the supposedly corrupting influences of Jazz, which he saw as a Jewish/Hollywood conspiracy to destroy “white culture.” So his reasons were both Anti-Semitic and Anti-African-American. The scary hate part of it seems to have largely died away over the course of a century, but that’s the roots of this odd American school tradition:

  209. I’m the Other which says “Sorta kinda maybe…but not really” because in 3rd grade we had to learn several dances (most highly inaccurate) and the ones I remember most were hula, line dancing, and a Native American dance. We were then chosen to be in one of several groups performing just one of the dances for a potluck assembly parents attended where they were supposed to bring a dish from our culture. My aunt brought German potato salad, we’re not German…not even a little. Even worse, we’re part Polish…way to go, crazy aunt!

    Anyhow, we MAYBE were taught square dancing then, but if so my mind has blocked it out.

  210. My mandantory dancing classes were in middle school, We had to learn square dancing in 7th grade, and The Shag in 8th (I was out sick most of that week). And it was part of P.E., not Music class.

  211. Public school – I took it as part of gym class and 30 years later – Catholic school, my son took it as part of gym class. Never mind there were only 2 girls (elementary school) in the class and 8 or 10 boys. My husband was fit to be tied when it was part of the open house gym demonstration – all those little boys up there on stage square dancing with each other………………………..

  212. We learned in middle school gym class, but only the girls had to learn. The boys played basketball or something. We were mad that we had to learn dancing, as girls, while the boys got to play sports. It was pretty weird.

    We also had to learn other line dances, like ‘popcorn’ and ‘the electric slide’.

  213. Mine was High School P.E. in Oregon. And? because my teacher was Hawaiian? The Hula, talk about awkward! We also had to learn the polka, someone has a bad sense of humor, because me at 4″11 was paired with the geek who was 6″1. Cringeworthy.

  214. I don’t remember if I ever learned square dancing in gym. I do remember buying a black and white square dancing dress at a garage sale and wearing it all the time. I just loved the ruffles!

  215. I had the privilege of being taught how to square dance in P.E. By my dad. Who was the P.E. Coach.
    P.S. He was also my Health teacher.
    P.P.S. I’m surprised I’m able to function normally in society.

  216. I ALWAYS got stuck acting as a boy because (a) there were never enough to go around and (b) I was a sweet kid and wouldn’t pitch a fit. I’m still pissed that in the 4 years that I attended elementary school in Texas I never got to wear one of those amazing fluffy petticoat skirts. Every damn year! sheesh

  217. Gym class! Y’know, because music class would’ve made too much sense and square dancing obviously required some kind of innate athletic ability 😉 ha!

  218. I don’t remember learning square dancing but I remember watching old people dance on stage on vacations. I was impressed with those skirts and how much netting there was but I never felt the urge to learn or jump in. I grew up in So California, if that helps.
    Also, last night I bought powdered gluten free donuts which is a big hairy deal at a dollar per donut! They’re frozen so I can guarantee they’ll feel cold, as I probably won’t let it adequately thaw before scarfing my first donut in two years.

  219. I went to a Catholic school where even hugging was discouraged so unfortunately we did not learn to square dance. When we danced we had to leave enough room for the “holy spirit” between us… which was creepy and probably the reason I’m afraid of ghosts.

  220. Who was not forced to do the Virgina Reel? I did it and so did my son when he was in elementary school. It’s tradition damn it.

  221. We had to learn square dancing and then perform at our school’s celebration of South Dakota’s centennial (1989). I was in sixth grade and beyond awkward (that part has not noticeably changed). I was relieved beyond all belief when I was chosen as one of four narrators for the elementary school’s centennial pageant. The only lines from my narration that I remember involved the differences between west river and east river South Dakotans (a very real dividing line; I don’t know if fights break out at the river, but it wouldn’t surprise me). East river peeps cheer for the Vikings and drink their coffee black, those from west river drink their coffee sweet and white and prefer the Broncos. Obviously, all anyone ever needs to know about South Dakota is right there; 100 years of history (because the pre-history was “there were some Indians, and we killed them”) distilled into sports and caffeine.

  222. We got to play “hockey” in my grade school, which I thought was the best fucking thing ever because I got to beat kids with my hockey stick. The teachers halfheartedly told me to knock it off, but since I was hitting the kids they didn’t like anyway, they weren’t too firm about it. BEST. SPORT. EVER. They finally called off the hockey idea. Probably for legal liability reasons.

  223. Absolutely. 5th grade was square dancing. 6th grade was disco. To this day I can do a mean do-si-do AND The Hustle.

    Stuff that, South Korea and your high test scores. American kids can boogie.

  224. Yep, yep, I remember it well, the awkwardness of dancing in the gym with the smelly sweaty middle school boys.
    There are adults in square dancing clubs and those people are extremely fond of their pursuit. I know because I used to take an aerobics class at a local school and once when we were using the cafeteria the square dance people were on after us. They had their noses pressed up against the glass 15 minutes before we were finished and then they barrelled in and started moving stuff around 5 minutes before we were done sweating to the oldies. Ladies in poufy skirts and guys in string ties and DO NOT GET BETWEEN THEM AND THEIR SQUARE DANCING.

  225. I just realized that DarthSon will be in 5th grade this year, which appears to be the universally accepted square dancing year. Anticipating the vast amounts of awkwardness in store, especially since he freezes like a deer in head lights whenever there is a rumor that a girl likes him.

  226. Yes! We learned square dancing and the Virginia reel. I loved it because I like dancing way more than I like having dodge balls thrown at my head by bullies. Also we were assigned to groups and no one needed to care about winning so I didn’t have to be the last pick that no one wanted on their team.

  227. No square dancing but in high school we learned the polka….and I’m embarrassed to admit that I loved it!! This was the late seventies….and damn it, it was fun 🙂

  228. Gawds – sweaty hands and awkward touching of the opposite sex, and you weren’t “going together.” Square dancing punished us for making it rain, apparently. (Oroville CA, 1970-1980)

  229. I don’t think they do in grade schools anymore because hasn’t everything not related to book learnin’ been cut (minus government sponsored social programs)? But yes, it was taught in PE class for those times we had to be indoors due to the weather, which since it was Ohio was often enough that we all knew how to do it. I actually liked it as it was one of the few “sports” that didn’t require getting pelted in the face with a ball and that I was coordinated enough to do.

  230. Square dancing was fun because it was just silly. What was way worse was when we had to learn to waltz and foxtrot…especially the waltz because it was supposed to be a “romantic” dance”…in a closer hold…with sweaty-handed boys. Shudder.

  231. “Stiff” by Mary Roach is such a great book! Although… word to the wise – if you bring it to read for pre/post surgery amusement in the hospital you will really freak out your doctors and nurses. True story.

  232. Not elementary school. In elementary school, I learned The Electric Slide. And then in summer camp I learned the Macarena.

    But, in Girl Scouts, we had father-daughter dances that were, for some reason, square dances. So I can’t say that I reliably know how to square dance, but I experienced it because of that.

  233. In my suburban Chicago school we definitely had square dancing. And disco. It was the 70s. DO THE HUSTLE!

  234. I grew up on Long Island for fuck’s sake and I had to learn how to square dance. And Long Island is one of the least “hick” places in this country!

  235. Since I can’t edit, I must add: And mind you this was 1994 we’re talkin’ about. Thought that I should clear that up.

  236. Oh, yeah, square dancing in school…may be a Texas thing? We didn’t get it till high school, though, and everyone hated it!!!! Oh, on the powdered donut thing…yes, it makes my mouth cold, and I love them! 🙂

  237. I learned square dancing in Elementary School in two different countries!!! By High School, we had progressed to the Cha Cha and the Hustle.

  238. Florida required square dancing in elementary school. We did the Maypole Dance every year too!

  239. Square dancing was what we did in Gym class. In high school! And I went to an all girls high school in Philadelphia.

  240. YES! I still have nightmares. I mean really, square dancing? When exactly is a child who grew up in West Los Angeles going to use this in real life? Or anywhere at any time forever?

  241. Oh I’ll add….it was in fifth grade and my teacher got sort of an evil glint in his eye as he choose partners for us. (he was the best teacher I ever had though, so I’ve long since forgiven him for this.)

  242. we also learned a line dance to “Tulsa Time”. I still thumb to the right when I hear that song.

  243. Our square dancing was during a semester of gym class in the 7th grade. I got out of doing it because that was the semester of gym I had health class. I will never be that happy to talk about sex ed again in my life.

  244. I hate being late to a party. You may not read this but I had to take square dancing when I was in junior high, and it was the most awkward thing I ever experienced. A very tall boy named Jim was my partner for the entirety. He would pick me up off the floor like I was a piece of lint and swing me around like a maniac. I hated every moment of it, and at the same time, I am glad I have that memory. Something to laugh and write about, perhaps. I still don’t understand the value that learning square dancing gave to my life, except to make me cringe when I think of it.

  245. No – no public school dancing at any point. We did not have a gym or a music room in elementary school (6 grades, 1 classroom per grade, asphalt yard outside for recess, mid-1960s), and jr/sr high gym was mostly various dodge and other ball sports while music was done sitting in a room and singing. I never saw square dancing until after college (all this in MA).

  246. Minuet and tarentella (of some sort…no clue if it was authentic) in elem in ct, a few line dances in elem in va, and about 9 weeks worth in middle school (also va). Best part? Having the younger guy pe teacher that all the girls had a thing for pick me to demo one of the dances in 7th grade. Had more than a few dirty looks from that (and he did nothing for me as he was about eye level to my boobs at the time). Granted that was 16 years ago so now clue if they’ve now declared dancing taboo.

  247. In my region of the world, it wasn’t elementary school, it was junior high. But yes, I remember it well.

  248. Square dancing was part of gym class in my elementary school. Everyone had to “duck for the oysters and dive for the clams.” Holy crap, I’ve never realized just how dirty those lyrics sounded until just now. The teachers must have been total pervs.

    I need to go take a scalding shower or something.

  249. We had 2 years of P.E. in high school, with a good portion of each spent square dancing with the asshole boys. I got to do only one year cuz I was geeky enough to be in the band…..Also we had to square dancing in Girls Scouts with the town pedophile as the caller.

  250. We were always threatened with it, but never ACTUALLY subjected to it. Instead, we learned line dancing because with that, no one had to touch people of the opposite sex.

  251. For the first time ever, I’m glad I wasn’t born and raised in this country. Thank you, Jenny. That broad with the short bangs was totally owning that weird-ass song, though. She needed a bucket of cold water poured over her gaggling head. Where did you find this freak show? Please tell me all those people are dead.

  252. I grew up in San Bruno, which is at least in the same geographic area as Redwood City (currently in Dallas). Didn’t learn to square dance, though we did have a few days in first grade with the waltz.

    We did Polynesian dancing and ballet folklorico – which looks a lot like square dancing! I’ve only seen the 2 step at the country bars here.

  253. Ugh. Square dancing. One of the elementary and junior high experiences that I could have done without! I had nightmares about square dancing in my younger years…for real. Looking back on it, the nightmares are mildly entertaining (but not the square dancing).

  254. Oh yes, learning square dancing. I had forgotten. We also had to learn a line dance. If you want to know a long-buried secret, I actually prefered the dancing to the football, the volleyball, the shuttle runs. Yuck. I had the most horrible gym teacher. His name was Mr. Thalhamer. He was MEAN. You had to be bleeding to go to see the nurse for an injury, and even then, blood wasn’t necessarily enough to get you out of class. One time I slipped during the outdoor shuttle run and skinned both my knees. My mom used to dress me in these ridiculous pioneer dresses (because that won’t get you made fun of in fourth grade in the 90s) with ruffly socks and slippery flats. When I faceplanted, my knees exploded and I watched the blood slowly creeping down toward my dainty little socks. I knew my mom would be livid if my socks were ruined so I begged Mr. Thalhamer to let me go to the nurse to get up. He, of course, refused. When the blood was almost to my ankles, I, being an anarchist for the first time in my life, went to the nurse’s office anyway.

    Now that I’m older, I think he had to teach us square dancing as a punishment for being such a jerkface. His last name should have been Trunchbull. Asshole.

  255. I just had to a Biology homework assignment with the book Stiff. Who would have thunk doing a book report in Biology?!?!

  256. Oh, yes…the square dancing. Major flashback to a time I thought my memory had suppressed. Damn, now it’s free. Illinois, square dancing, gym, elementary school. Gah. Thanks, Jenny.

  257. In grade 7 one class got to do the dnace unit and my class didn’t. Although I must say I am not really very sad about that

  258. Nope, no square dance, but we did learn the Charleston, the Lindy, the twist and the Electric Slide. It seems like there were others but I don’t remember them. We played weird thing like volley tennis and pickle ball tournaments. My husband says he learned square dancing, but he won’t elaborate.

  259. We had to Country Line Dance. The Watermelon Crawl did not mix well with my Robert Smith loving sensibilities.

  260. I feel that the inclusion of the fact that I grew up in Connecticut, which is not exactly square-dance central, but I still learned square dancing at school, is significant. If we were learning it, everyone else had to have been. We also had a Girl Scouts father-daughter square dance, although I have tried to repress that memory.

  261. Ib am always doing shit when I’m not around so I, truly, understand where the BLOGGESS is coming from. I think she is so very awesome. Love her.

  262. They tried to teach us to square dance once in seventh grade, but then these assholes got into a fight and the experiment was never repeated. Now I wonder if I missed out on something. What if square dancing was my calling? What if I’m down a valuable skill? What if I fall in love with a champion square dancer and I just can’t keep up with him and he decides we’re from two different worlds and it’ll never work and I die alone and friendless, surrounded by cats?


  263. Not only were we required to square dance in gym class, I had to learn some dance in German class and I was partnered with the tallest boy while I was the shortest girl so… he danced on his knees… that wasn’t awkward at all thanks.
    And then later there was country line dancing.
    Soooo yeah Victor you lose this round. But in reality you won by not being required to learn these things in the first place. LOL

  264. Oh, the social trauma… I grew up in north Florida in the 60’s, and in 6th grade, I think, our teacher taught us to square dance, and we even had to perform at school assemblies. I was the tallest girl in the class and was randomly paired with the shortest boy. I asked the teacher to pair me with someone taller (hopefully the guy I had a crush on) which she did. Yay! Unfortunately, the switch apparently hurt the feelings of the short boy, and when he had his birthday party, he invited everyone except me. But it was worth it to get to dance with my dreamboat!

  265. To be true to the book, you really need 4 mice. Athos, Porthos, and Aramis were the Three Musketeers. But let’s not forget the noble D’Artagnan!

  266. I never learned square dancing, but I live in the UK where I think Maypole dancing was the compulsory thing.

    Basically we wound different coloured ribbon around a pole into a nice pattern while dancing to a song that I seem to remember talked about peas a lot…

    My school was weird.

  267. I am remembering the horror of square dancing vividly now. We had to touch boys! They had cooties! Shudder….

  268. I grew up just outside of Boston, MA and we had a unit of square dancing every year in Elementary School. I was the overenthusiastic dancer…

  269. Here in the FL Panhandle it was required every year in PE through 9th grade. I have no idea why. But it was the only part of PE I was good at.

  270. Even in my back-ass poverty stricken public school in Maine, some group of administrators decided it was important we all know how to dance LITERALLY like squares. I remember doing this in the back of our 3rd grade classroom, the boy next to me refused to touch anyone’s hand (no doubt had germ phobia… poor little Jeff…) Or perhaps the square-dancing CAUSED his germ phobias.

  271. Yup, elementary school squaredancing (TX). Luckily they phased out modern dance for girls PE in junior high. You know, the tunic and footless tights dancing which was supposed to look like Martha Graham but ended up more like Mummenschanz.

  272. I’m from Ohio and this video is fucking HORRIFYING. I can’t wrap my mind around the kind of coordination those people possess but I am now extremely grateful that this is not something I was subjected to as an impressionable youth.

  273. We learned both square dancing AND clog dancing in elementary. In jr high the girls did square dancing again, while the boys had a unit on wrestling. I never understood the purpose of teaching only the girls how to dance, except just to save us from awkwardly being forced to dance with jr high boys. Excruciating! Did nothing to keep square dancing alive, though.

  274. We did square dancing in elementary school gym. I loved it because it was pretty much the only time in gym when I wasn’t in fear of being hit with something (a ball, a hockey stick, a classmate). Then I went to a Christian college that didn’t allow dancing – except for square dancing. Every time we had a dance I became a rock star. Well, except they weren’t big on rock music either, so I was more of a praise band star, which was somewhat less impressive but still kind of cool.

  275. Yep, we totally were required to learn square dancing in sixth grade and this was in Southern California.

  276. I grew up in the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York. I also went to Catholic school. Not traditional square dancing, but one of the nuns was from Italy, and she made us learn the Tarantella, which is actually Italian square dancing, if you think about it. Or not. Or yes. Or maybe.

    I want donuts.

  277. Not square dancing but line dancing yes. Also, Bitches gotta eat is the best ever.

  278. It was a thing in England. I was even (ugh) on the display team at the Summer Fete. But I fell over. I wasn’t on the team any more after that.

  279. In VA we had to go through cotillion in middle school and it was during PE that we did it not music. We learned the waltz, the fox trot and the state dance, Square dancing. At this time they separate girls and boys and they are given etiquette lessons specific to their gender. Girls learn posture, proper tea pouring, how to sit in a dress and boys learn door holding and which arm to offer a lady and good manners in general. If you were “lucky” you got the PE teacher who didn’t care but for those of us unlucky folks we suffered through 4 weeks of pure torture with our classmates forming a bond as strong as people who lived through combat together.

    I am not sure if they still do this in school or not, but I’m sure its not as rigorously practiced as it was 30 years ago. Maybe that’s what’s wrong with our youth?

  280. To add insult to injury, my “square” was so good at doing our thing that we were made to demonstrate all of the moves for the parents at the square dancing recital. Yes, it is a thing and it is horrifying.

  281. Southern California, 1970s, 4th grade. Our teacher was very fond of square dancing. I mostly remember being horrified at being paired up with the boy who had warts on his hands. (“Poor kid,” I think now. But 4th-grade me was more grossed-out than sympathetic, I’m afraid.)

  282. I would love to see a second poll whether or not those who learned square dancing in school were in Texas or elsewhere. I suspect it’s a Texas thing. Like mandatory learning about the Alamo and getting out of school for Battle of Flowers day. (Or that might just be a San Antonio thing?)

  283. I must have gone to school with Victor. Had no idea my peers were subjected to such horrors. No wonder our country is in the state it’s in.

  284. Totally had square dancing lessons in school and I just called my mother and she said she had to learn it too.

    Kids now days miss out…

  285. We had to do worse…line dancing. I’m still scarred, 20 years later. Actually, the only F I got in HS was in PE because I refused to line dance. Was it worth it to get an F, oh hells to the yeah it was totally worth it!

  286. Was square dancing one of the required units in 4th grade P.E. class? Yes, it was. Did I “learn” it? No, of course not. I can’t dance to save my life.

  287. Of course we learned to square dance. I went to a new Catholic school, and they had no music or gym program. The best they could do for both was to make us dance. (In fact, there was no gym. We danced in the cafeteria). In addition to square dance, we learned to ballroom dance, and I think we had etiquette lessons too. Oh, we also learned tap (with rented shoes, I think). Victor just went to the wrong kind of school.

  288. Oh, BTW, I lived in Michigan. Still do now, but after an interlude in Iowa. Nevermind.

  289. Of course I didn’t learn to square dance in elementary school! Where I grew up, they saved that shit for junior high.

  290. We totally square danced through elementary school and junior high and into highschool (all in one building mind you). Though our junior and senior year we broke into line dancing. I’m pretty bomb at the Electric Slide, yo. In related news, that square dancing video is the longest! I started playing it and then scrolled past it thinking it would stop after I could no longer see it. Nope. It has colored almost 15 minutes of my life now as I read your other blog posts. I have found in your blog a place where all the weird shit from my childhood has a friend with similar experiences. 🙂 Thank you for sharing your weird!

  291. Square/line dancing was not the weird part. (I actually liked it; had a crush on one of the girls…)

    What I MUST have an explanation for is why–when we were sitting out and watching another crew dance, we had to sit on each other’s laps. I am not making this up. Half the time out, I would be sitting on a girl’s lap. The other half of the time, a girl would be sitting on mine. We only did this when we were doing the dancing; never in any other PE activity, or on any other occasion. It had some connection with the dancing, but I cannot find any reference to a dance custom that involved boys/girls sitting on laps when sitting out.

    Of course if the girl thought I was gross, she would sit clear out at the kneecaps, and with as little of her weight on my legs as possible. (Don’t say it!) And being shy, I did the same because I didn’t want to creep the girls out.

    What the heck was going on?? (No, the teachers were not perverts; they were quite normal in every other regard. And they were highly regarded.)

    This happened around 1974, fourth grade. The teachers were about 35 years of age at that time, so they would have gone through college around 1960.

    (OK, now you can ask: No, nobody got pregnant.)

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