Frontier Squares

Frontier Squares Terminology


The small, winged creatures found mostly in statuary within churches. They are also the code name for experienced dancers who attend classes to fill in squares and help new dancers, a.k.a. mentors, and many times, Frontier Squares Club Members.



Calls are made by a caller who communicates to the dancers what steps to dance.




  • Patter or Hash Call: The first dance part of a square dance tip. It is characterized by its unstructured and often puzzling dance choreography. The music is usually instrumental, and the calls are not sung but rhythmically spoken. At the end of this call, the caller must restore the original order of the square.


  • Singing Call: The second dance part of a square dance tip. The dance instructions are sung as well as the lyrics during the duration. The music is often a popular song, and the call is timed to fit. It is more structured than a typical hash call. At the end of a singing call, the caller restores the original order of the square.



Dress attire for classes and workshops is casual and comfortable. For Club Dances, it has become the custom at Frontier Squares for the dress attire to be casual in June, July, and August. (We typically start dressing casually at our annual picnic through Labor Day.) We encourage and welcome traditional square dance attire as described below for the rest of the year. We also prefer dancers to wear square dance attire during demonstrations.


Frontier Squares' club colors are burgundy and white, which we encourage people to wear when we banner raid other clubs. Club members have purchased burgundy polo shirts (embroidered with names) for casual wear during some dances and events. There are different styles of dress attire, and none of us are here to be "Fashion Police" - pick the style that's you!


Dances in many Greater Cincinnati square dance clubs and associations have become more casual. Some will say, "It's not about the clothes. It's about dancing and having fun." Other people will tell you, "It's all about the clothes; we need to dress the part." Please be aware that there are still events requiring or requesting dance attire, so make sure you inquire about the clothing before attending other events – especially demos, conventions, and festivals.


Here are descriptions of the different styles:

  • "Traditional Square Dance Attire" reflects what became popular in the '50s and is still preferred by many dancers today. It definitely makes the statement: "I am a square dancer....and I'm proud of it." There is something to be said for full skirts and bouffant petticoats swirling across the dance floor. The gentleman's shirt usually matches or compliments his partner's outfit. Long-sleeved shirts are preferred (especially if people perspire), complemented by a cloth tie with a slide, bandana, or bolo. Men typically wear western-cut trousers, jeans, or khakis. Women are discouraged from wearing slacks unless they are dancing the man's part.
    • Petticoat: A layered slip underneath the lady's skirt that causes the skirt to flare and rise correctly while dancing.
    • Pettipants: An extra garment layer worn under the lady's petticoat for modesty to prevent underwear from showing when being twirled. (Both pettipants and knee-length yoga pants work.)
  • In the early 1990s, prairie-length skirts were approved as proper dance attire.
  • Western Wear is also accepted as proper dance attire for both men and women. It reflects the western culture of boots, tailored western-cut trousers or jeans, western shirts, bolo ties, and cowboy/girl hats. Western wear represents moving westward and brings back the era of barn dances and kicking your heels.
  • Contra dancers grace the floor with floor-length costumes that take us back to our roots of English, French and European influence. Nothing's prettier than a Virginia Reel or Quadrille dancing in floor-length dresses with long petticoats and pantaloons.
  • Round Dance Styles have become popular with sleek, tailored, glamorous flair skirts or dresses made of silky materials that move with grace.



An item that hangs from a dancer's nametag to commemorate a particular dance or notable square dancing or club accomplishment.


Dance Clubs

Organizations that are founded by a group of dancers or a caller.   Club list their "Dances - Levels" on websites and flyers.  Clubs in the Greater Cincinnati area, including Frontier Squares, are open to all dancers that are able to dance at the posted level.  You do not need to be a member of any specific club to attend their dances.  You may join mulitple clubs, if you choose; and we sincerely hope you join Frontier Squares as your home club and become lifelong members.


Dances - Levels

  • SSD, Social Square Dance.  First level for New Dancers.  SSD utilizes the first 50 calls covered in our classes.  Sometimes called Half-Dance.
  • Mainstream: Tips only use calls from BASIC and the MAINSTREAM lists.
  • Plus: Tips only use calls from the BASIC, MAINSTREAM, and PLUS lists.
  • Hi-Lo:  Dance event will have tips that are just from the MAINSTREAM (aka:  Lo) list and tips that are for PLUS (aka Hi) level only.  When attending these dances, if you are only at the MAINSTREAM level, you should not participate in the PLUS Tip unless the dancers in the square specifically invite you.
  • Advanced:  A level above PLUS, but under CHALLENGE.  Callerlab has defined calls for A1 and A2 levels.
  • Challenge:  The most advanced of the square dance grouping.  There are four levels (C1 - C4).
  • Round Dancing.  Couples dance that progresses in a circle counterclockwise around the hall.  Sometimes it is referred to as choreographed ballroom dancing where moves are "cued", and all the couples dance the same figures around the floor at the same time.  While the most common rhythms initially are two-step and waltz, other rhythms such as rumba, cha-cha, jive and fox-trot are also included.  When round dancing is cued between tips at a square dance, it is called a "set."
  • Contra Dancing.  The forerunner of, and is older than, Square Dancing.  Contra dates back to at least the mid-1400s.  It is performed in one of several line formations that involve interaction with other dancers.  The term "contra" means opposite, so couples typically are opposite each other in facing lines.  While most contras are done to reels, jigs and hornpipes are, it is also done to waltzes, polkas and modern country-western tunes.
  • Line Dancing.  A choreographed dance in which a group of people dance in one or more lines or rows, all facing either each other or in the same direction, and executing the steps at the same time.  It consists of patterned foot movements that are usually performed to a number of counts per sequence, and then the sequence is repeated.  The dances are done "one-wall, two-wall, or four-wall."  Line dancers are not in physical contact with each other unless it is a couple's dance.



All dancing is an exercise in manners. Square Dancing is no exception. Please review the etiquette taught, encouraged, and practiced at Frontier Squares:  CLICK HERE.



Each member of a Square Dance Club can be identified by name through their badge. Badges contain dangles that indicate various accomplishments. (Some dangles show how many raids were participated in. Other dangles show how many years of involvement.)



Square Dance music consists of instrumental versions of popular tunes sung by the caller. Songs such as 'Peggy Sue' or 'Johnny B. Good' are possible. At times, the music choices can be quite surprising. So come expecting to hear tunes not only from the '50s, '60s, and '70s; but also from the '80s, '90s, and 2000s!


Raids and Retrievals

Raids are a throwback to customs of conquest. Each club attempts to steal the banner of another club sponsoring a dance. This is called a RAID. If the first club succeeds, they display the stolen banner at their dance and try to defend them from retrieval. If the first club wants its banner back, it will need to infiltrate the former club's dance and steal back its banner. We call this a RETRIEVAL.



  • Yellow Rock - hug your corner
  • Red Rock - hug your partner


Stack the Wood

A friendly hug.


Stacking a Square

Pre-arranging dancers to be in a specific square. *Frontier Squares discourages this practice as it can be exclusionary. However, the caller or club leadership may use this method to help students or new dancers build their skill sets with specific Angels.


Stir the Bucket

Each couple moves counter-clockwise in one position in the square, usually immediately before the Singing Call.



A full round of dancing in a square is called a tip. It starts with 8 dancers (4 couples) squaring up, shaking hands, and introducing themselves before the start of the dance session. The caller usually begins with a hash call. It would be typical at this point to Stir the Bucket before going on to the second call, called the Singing Call. At the end of this song, the square holds hands in their circle, says the thank-you's, and then breaks.



A class session that covers material previously learned. IE: Plus Workshop from October through December is for dancers who have already learned the calls but wish to revisit and re-familiarize themselves with the calls from the Plus list.