El Camino Reelers: Square Dancing in Silicon Valley for the LGBTQ Community and friends

Information for Students

Squaring Up

At ECR, it's common for people to dance as singles, even if they arrive with a partner. Many people are also able to dance both the girl and boy part. When it's time to square up, singles will take up a position in a square and raise their left hand if they would like to dance the girl part, raise their right hand if they would like to dance the boy part, or raise both hands if they are willing to dance either part. Feel free to step up to dance with anyone and if you are standing alone in a square, don't worry, we will get you a partner! This also means if you already have a partner, don't push a single person out of a square, that person has already claimed the spot.


LGBT clubs have some unique styling, especially for Do-Si-Do and Weave the Ring. If you are familiar with the styling, please join us! If you would like to learn a styling, people will be happy to workshop it with you between tips. If you are unfamiliar, have an injury, or just don't want to do the styling or swinging your partner, that's OK too, just present yourself as a "stub."

Thanking the Caller and Your Square

At ECR, for Mainstream and Plus level tips, we do a fun hand-hold thing (right over left) in a circle, then turn out to thank the square. For Advanced and C1 level tips, we all point to the floor in the center of the square with our right hands and then point out of the circle to thank the square. Then we turn to thank our partner first, then usually our corner and then the rest of the square. We like to hug, but if you prefer a handshake just hold out your hand.

At dances where there is a guest caller, we thank the caller at the end of the evening. Someone will start counting down "Ten... nine...eight..." while dancers scramble to line up, holding hands right-over-left, with backs to the caller. At "one", we yell "Thaaank YOU!" and turn around and bow to the caller.

Special Requests for Angels

We always need and welcome angels to help with our classes! We suggest the following for angels:

  • Please try to distribute yourselves among the square so there is a fairly even student/angel ratio. Sometimes the caller or class coordinator may assist in this by "redecorating": asking couples to move to different squares.
  • If you come with a partner, please consider splitting up. This is not expected but is greatly appreciated. The more students partnered with angels, the better and faster they learn.
  • For Advanced and C classes, students are familiar with the process of tagging in. Angels are requested NOT to sit out and instead tag in, unless of course you really need a break and want to sit out. Another option is "spotting" - standing by a square in case it needs some help.
  • Students are the lifeblood of our club and we try to treat them like gold!
  • Please realize that as angels, you have much more knowledge and floor time than students.
  • Students are not expected to dance up to speed and need time after they hear a call to bring the definition to mind. Please give them a chance to do it themselves before jumping in to help.
  • When helping, please be kind and gentle. If you can cue people through the call, that is preferable to pushing them into position. People learn better when they can take time to see the formation and move through all the steps. Simply ending up in the right position doesn't help much and tends to throw people off for the next call.
  • When things go wrong and the square breaks down, we all can get frustrated at times. Try to remember that a shrug and a smile help a lot more than glares and eye rolls.
Original article by Valerie Guinan

Learning Resources

For You Techies...

Square dancing is more than just a social activity. It's a whole domain of musical and mathematical problem solving.

If this sounds intriguing, take a look at this video by MIT computer science professor (and Tech Squares caller) Guy L. Steele on the complexities of designing a singing call.

Musical and Mathematical Design of Square Dance Singing Calls Part 1

Musical and Mathematical Design of Square Dance Singing Calls Part 2

Group photo taken at ECR's 2011 Plus class graduation ceremony