The Essential List of Traditional Square Dance Songs

The following is an essential list of traditional hoedown and singing call selections that represent the most popular old time square dance music. These were frequently performed dances, and some of the figures used by callers were the same on a national basis, however, some were called and executed by the dancers differently regionally, as well. Also, it is important to note that the simpler figures used such as “Split the Ring” and “Duck for the Oyster” were danced pretty much the same everywhere in the traditional manner. The more advanced dances varied from area to area and local callers added their personal touches to many of the figures that were used in the traditional style of square dance. The choreography was set and married to the particular songs.

The two types of square dance calls used today are patter calls and singing calls. Over the years the singing calls, which were adapted from the patter calling commands, or choreography that is delivered, have evolved a lot throughout the past 50 years, and because of our changing culture, will always continue to change. Perhaps the reason why singing call music has maintained it’s popularity in modern western square dance over the years is because of this constant change that keeps pace with our modern music enjoyed by everyone today.

Although traditional square dance music was danced to live musicians in a square dance band, some of these recordings were used extensively as modern western square dance became more and more popular.

Essential Traditional Hoedown Square Dance for Patter Calls:

Little Brown Jug Worldtone 10023
Devil’s Dream Wagon Wheel 124
Rubber Dolly Blue Star 1767
Old Joe Clark Folkraft 1071
Mississippi Sawyer Folkraft 1334
Chinese Breakdown Sets in Order 2123
Stay a Little Longer Chaparral 109
River Boat Run Kalox 1275
Turkey in the Straw Worldtone 10023
Jim Jam Sets in Order 2147
Dance All Night Kalox 1277
Whiffletree Top 25068
Buffalo Gals Folkraft 1145
Boil Them Cabbage Down Folkraft 3301


Essential Traditional Square Dance Singing Calls:

Red River Valley Folkraft 1269
Darling Nellie Grey Square Dance Music SJB-6A
Comin’ Round the Mountain Windsor 4115
Pop Goes the Weasel Folkraft 1329
Pistol Packin’ Mama Old Timer 1103
Oh Susannah Folkraft 1186
Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight Windsor 4115
Merry Go Round of Love Wagon Wheel 131
May the Circle Be Unbroken Grenn 12137
King of the Road Wagon Wheel 922
Easy on My Mind Wagon Wheel 133
Manana Mac Gregor 1017





Mission Statement: The purpose of this post is to create a greater visibility of the square dance activity for future dance population growth on a national and local level. The information provided here serves as a source for square dance caller training, education, and perspectives on dance. Future articles will be developed to improve the programs of square dancing and how those learning to square dance call can help contribute to the preservation of both modern western square dancing and traditional square dancing and to aid in the growth of the square dance activity.

4 thoughts on “The Essential List of Traditional Square Dance Songs

  1. Pingback: “Pop! Goes The Weasel!” Evolution of a Nursery Rhyme in Square Dance | Square Dance Caller Shaun Werkele August Records

  2. Pingback: Square Dance Calling: Traditional Ideas In Modern Western Square Dance! | Square Dance Caller Shaun Werkele August Records

  3. There is a very rudimentary square dance we learned, in South Texas (a requirement to graduate from Elementary to Junior High School) 1982(ish). The call I remember was, “allamand left—allamand left your partner, grand right and left, it’s a grand train of half way round and home, now you promenade your lady there, walk that girl around that square, and promenade your little mountain gal—promenade all! ” Any idea what this song is, and where I can find it?


    • I am sorry, I do not know. What you have described sounds like hoedown music that the caller used to teach some basic figures to. This style of square dance calling allows the caller to modify what he instructs the dancers to do on the spot. Some of the words that you have here strongly indicate that the caller/instructor had a traditional background within his arsenal of square dance calls and “stylings.” Hope you will give square dance a try now that you are grown up. Enjoy yourself out there!


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