Did you know that 29 states, including North Dakota, have an official state dance?

Square dancing holds this title in 24 of those states, reflecting its widespread popularity and cultural significance. You may be surprised to know that North Dakota's official state dance is square dancing.

The Origins and Evolution of Square Dancing

Square dancing has roots that trace back to the folk dances of Europe, particularly the quadrille, a dance form popular in France and England during the 18th century. Immigrants brought these dance traditions to America, where they evolved and blended with other styles, such as the Appalachian folk dances. By the 19th century, square dancing had become a beloved pastime in rural America, including North Dakota.

In North Dakota, square dancing became more than just a pastime—it was a way to bring communities together. Picture neighbors gathering in barns and community halls, guided by the rhythmic calls of the dance leader.


The Road to State Recognition

The move to make square dancing North Dakota’s official dance was driven by enthusiasts who wanted to preserve this piece of our history. They saw it as a way to connect us to our past while fostering community ties in the present.

In 1995, the North Dakota Legislative Assembly passed a bill to make square dancing the official state dance. The decision was met with widespread approval and enthusiasm, reflecting the enduring love and respect for this traditional form of dance.

The Role of Square Dancing Today

Today, square dancing continues to thrive in North Dakota, thanks to the efforts of local clubs and organizations dedicated to keeping the tradition alive. Events and gatherings are held regularly, attracting dancers of all ages. Square dancing offers a fun and healthy way to socialize, exercise, and celebrate North Dakota’s cultural heritage.

Schools and community programs often include square dancing in their curriculum and events, ensuring that younger generations learn and appreciate this vibrant tradition. The dance’s simple, repetitive patterns make it accessible to beginners, while its potential for complexity and variation keeps it engaging for experienced dancers.

I can personally attest to the fun of square dancing, having taken classes in college. These classes were not only a way to stay active but also a fantastic opportunity to connect with others and learn about a significant aspect of our cultural heritage.

If you're looking to join the fun, check out Allandance's Wednesday Dance Lessons at DK’s Lounge in Williston. The lessons run from 7 PM to 8 PM and cost just $5 per person. No partner is required, and there’s a practice social afterwards where you can mingle and perfect your moves.

So, next time you hear the rhythmic calls and see dancers twirling and swinging, remember: it's not just a dance. It’s a celebration of North Dakota’s heritage and the joy of community connection.

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