Banks, Reg - Decline of square dancing | Bowing Down Home




RB – Reg Banks

KP – Ken Perlman

RB: Oh there’s a lot of changes in the dances. I can hardly explain the dances today. They get up on the floor today, and they're dancin’ around and they’d just be scufflin' around. Now, years ago there was a system to it. There was a dance, the Souris Sets they called them, they'd only have six or eight, six women and six men, or eight men. Now there's a whole [circle]. Down in Georgetown I bet there was 50 in one of the sets I played for. So that's quite a change. And there was four figures to it. You played a tune for the first figure and then they stopped, and then you started a new tune, played [that] for the next figure. Probably the waltzes are the same as years ago. And years ago when you were playing for a dance, they only danced to the violin music. Now they sing. They’ll sing songs, and they'll waltz to the songs.

KP: Oh, you mean in the halls?

RB: In the halls.

KP [summary] And that the band will sing? Yes I’ve seen that. Why do you suppose the square dancing changed from four couples in a set to as many as 50 couples in a big circle?

RB: I suppose It was lost when the older people stopped going to dances, and the younger ones they don't B they used to have people calling them. They lost all that, so anyway… But they still enjoy themselves.

KP: How about the step dancing?

RB: That's another thing. Now years ago, everyone could step dance, pretty near. There was some great step dancers here. Now you hardly ever see anybody that can really dance. They have what they call tap dancing today. There's a lady in Charlottetown that gives those tap dancing lessons. And it's entirely different from the old fashioned step dancing.

KP: In what way? What was different about the old step dancing?

RB: The old step dancers they'd stand in front of where you were playing and they danced different steps. Now when they're doing this tap dancing they're all across the stage back and forth. They’ll be dancin all over the place, kickin' their feet all up in the air all the time, (laughs). It's entirely different. It’s entirely different.