66th National Square Dance Convention 2017

66th National Square Dance Convention June 21-24, 2017 Cincinnati, Ohio


The Square Dance Is On!
The National Square Dance Convention is here again in Cincinnati June 21 through June 24 in downtown Cincinnati at the Duke Energy Convention Center.

The Duke Energy Convention Center  is located at 525 Elm Street, Cincinnati, Ohio where the venue is adjoined to the city’s Skywalk  system, providing quick and easy access.

Below is the app you will want to get to find dining, shopping, entertainment and other Cincinnati information. A notable feature on this app is you can take advantage of location services, dubbed ‘near me’ which supplies you with tons of easily accessible information on the the best Downtown Cincinnati has to offer. You can view requested features in list form or via the interactive map, making navigation very simple.


Complimentary public wireless internet is offered in the Espresso Café at the main entry of the center and in limited spots on the second and third levels. For a daily fee, wireless internet is also available in other parts of the Duke Energy Convention Center. Secure wireless connections and networking options are in place for all telecommunications for this event.

No outside food or beverages are are allowed in the Duke Energy Convention Center. Food options are available within the center. PNC Bank ATMs are available in the convention center on Level 1 at the main entrance (Fifth Street and Elm Street) and in the Fifth Street Concourse (Hall B).

Within the center there are ample choices for food samplings distributed throughout the entire facility. The majority of the food outlets are located on the main level (Level 1). Some of the food offerings are listed below:

Espresso Café (Entrance Lobby)   Coffee and pastries

Black Angus (Hall A)   Serving great tasting burgers, salads and fries

La Rosa’s Pizza (Hall A)  Serves 7 inch personal pizzas

Skyline Chili (Hall A) Chili sandwiches, deli, soup, salads

Caliente (Hall A)  Fresh Mexican cuisine, burrito bowls and nachos

Panini Bistro (Hall B)  Gourmet premium sandwiches made-to-order

Cincy Fresh (Hall C)  Classic concession fast food, hotdogs, hamburgers

Additionally, there are many great restaurants and places to dine in the downtown area and you can find more information on Cincinnati dining on this link.

The Downtown Cincinnati Parking Lot Map has more information about available parking for square dancers in the vicinity around the Duke Energy Convention Center and the downtown area. Parking garages and parking lots are located north and south of the convention center. Many lots are close and convenient to this event and there is good access to and from I-75 on 6th and 5th Streets and other major roadways from there. Elm, Vine, Walnut and Main are the principle streets north and south and street metered parking is available in the nearby downtown area. Rates vary according to different time limits and vicinity parking rates vary throughout the downtown area as well. See here.

Street Parking Rates Downtown Cincinnati

Helpful Driving Directions
How to get into downtown Cincinnati from major highways
Heading Northbound:
On I-71/75: take the Second Street exit immediately after the bridge. Turn north and drive up Elm, Vine or Main streets.  On I-471: simply take the Sixth Street exit.
Heading Southbound:
On I-71: take the Third Street exit that begins before Lytle Tunnel. Turn north and drive up Elm, Vine or Main Streets.  On I-75: take the 7th Street exit (on the right) or the 5th Street exit (on the left). Keep straight after light at the end of ramp.
Heading Eastbound:
On U.S. 50: take the Second Street exit. Turn north up Elm, Vine or Main Streets. Or exit Fifth Street.
Heading Westbound:
On U.S. 50 (Columbia Parkway): take the Third Street exit. Turn north up Elm, Vine or Main Streets. Or exit Sixth Street.

A special note on major road construction: the Third Street off-ramp from I-71 southbound will be closed for one year beginning July 20, 2016. Traffic will be detoured as follows: Gilbert to East Eighth to Sycamore to Third to I-71 South

The City of Cincinnati has a very integrated and complete bus system. For schedules and fare information go to:


For more transportation information call (513) 621-4455.

For general entrance into this national square dance event, please use the main entry facing both Elm Street and 5th Street. There is a Cincinnati Destination Kiosk available for local restaurant information and nearby local attractions. Additionally, there is shielded Skywalk access from the sides of the building. All flooring in the dance halls will be the removable hardwood that can be reused at future National Square Dance Conventions.

Housing is available at these premium downtown hotels:

Magnificent Millennium Hotel Cincinnati

Hyatt Regency

Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza

Hampton Inn & Suites-Cincinnati Downtown

Homewood Suites by Hilton Cincinnati-Downtown

The Westin

The Skywalk access is available from the first three hotels above and the adjacent large parking garage. All outlying hotels have rooms available, however, some are requiring a 4 day stay on reservations. Early arrivals, before Wednesday, June 21, 2017, need to advance book for those nights.

Check out the Cincinnati Zoo on 3400 Vine Street with a great variety of animals and it is one of the top zoos nationally. It has a modern and clean appearance, and is easy to park and walk. All of the exhibits offer up-close visual opportunities for the entire family.

Make a visit to see the Cincinnati Reds at the majestic Great American Ball Park with Art Center. Recognized nationally and internationally as a world-class sports venue in the heart of the the US, this venue offers great promotions, great varieties of all kinds of cuisine and drink, and all can find something great and exciting at a Red’s game. There is plenty of room to roam outside the actual game and ticket prices are available at all levels. You won’t want to miss this much fun at any other ballpark!

Smale Riverfront Park has become a renovated centerpiece of downtown Cincinnati and it offers a great variety of enjoyment along this beautiful waterfront park with an antique carousel, unique children’s playground areas, water features that provide lots of fun in beautiful weather. Connecting paths lead to other parks, fun swings and benches galore to sit upon and offer a visual escape for a few minutes or a few hours while taking in the scenic views along the Ohio Riverfront. This area has been improved a great deal from the riverfront that many knew from 10 years ago with an interactive and artful layout that is both whimsical and relaxing. It celebrates the history of downtown Cincinnati, and offers simple and outdoorsy entertainment for all ages.

The Cincinnati Art Museum holds an impressive collection primarily representing artists of both contemporary and classical art, from European painting to native American pottery. This nice sized museum has some of the best collections of American paintings in the US. who have left their historic artistic heritage to the public. Free to all, however, the parking lot is not. Try visiting here, you will be glad you did! A great variety of work representing the past two hundred plus years. Have lunch at the Terrace Café.

With the American Sign Museum you can view hundreds of signs from the past. See signs from places from your childhood in a nostalgic trip to a time long forgotten. This must-see stop is a wonderland for those who like to trace their history through a true slice of Americana. For the young and old, or just those young at heart, you’ll love this place for the historic and educational insights. Signs both big and small, those from bygone eras and so many that everyone will know. Try the guided tour!

Check out the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. This cultural and educational center is highly interesting with details about the history of slavery in the United States, worldwide, and enlightenment about the sex trade. Tons of accurate historical information with pictures, videos and descriptions all relating to graphic and realistic portrayals of the slavery and freedom movement. This is a tribute to those who overcame oppression and the content is not suitable for younger audiences. This museum is in the banks area near the river close to downtown. There are many good restaurants in the area to stop for a bite to eat.

Shopping is aplenty throughout Cincinnati. There are plenty of specialty shops, antique stores, restaurants, clothing stores, and more than 200 retail businesses all highlight the general area around downtown. Spend a little time in the downtown area and experience life in the Midwest, loaded with restaurants, local events and enjoyable modern shopping.

The Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) is only 13 miles away from the national convention venue.

The Dayton International Airport (DAY) is just 66 miles north of downtown Cincinnati.

Check out a local square dance club or two while you are in town, either before the convention or after! This fun-filled and family focused annual square dance festival will be fully loaded with fantastic, energetic fun, education for square dance callers and square dancers alike, plenty of things to do, entertainment for all, and, of course, the reason to go in the first place. Square dancing!

Shaun Werkele


Three Ways to Trick Yourself into Square Dance Calling Better

Sometimes tricking someone can be a really good thing. Particularly if the person you are tricking is yourself and the thing is about focusing on becoming a better square dance caller. And sometimes getting motivated to improve can be a little frustrating. The thing about motivation and improvement is if you are feeling unfocused you cannot move forward optimally. You can read more about achieving mastery in square dance calling  to help you out, but there has to be a starting point.

Aiming for improvement in something requires two things. Setting goals and then honing in on stimulating your focus to press ahead and gain ground on those areas that you want to excel in.

And this is where the trick comes into the picture…

In order to see progress and improvement in square dance calling, try this set of methods to become as focused as you can:

1. “Worst Should Always Be First”

Dreaded parts of your square dance calling need to be tackled first. Then that dreaded part will not be looming over your head.

Plus you will have a great initial sense of accomplishment that will enable you to crush the rest of your practice session. For example, working on timing in a hoedown opening sequence so that the phrasing and delivery of commands is succinct and tight is very important. Although generally more enjoyable to practice, singing calls should take a lesser concentration of your time than hoedown calling so that you can improve in this crucial part of square dance calling that will improve your overall style and delivery.

2. Use an Effective Listing Method

Instead of making a list of things that you only want to work on, try organizing tasks by a hierarchy of priority instead.
Create lists prioritized and labeled by:
1.  “have to get done”
2.  “should get done”
3.  “want to get done”

Obviously the one area that you do not enjoy working on will be your “have to get done.” Everything trickles down in priority from there.

Then break up your “to-do” list into smaller more manageable pieces. Then you will make progress a step at a time and in a more focused and organized fashion. Apply “worse should always be first” and you will see much faster improvement in your square dance calling. This will take some time and thought to set great and really workable lists, but in the end, they will save you time, frustration, and allow you to achieve your goals.

Related: Modern Square Dance Calling: How to Practice Efficiently

Set up two sets of lists, a daily practice schedule list and a more long term list with set goals. Prioritize these by choreography, ways that you want to be more entertaining, improvement in your singing voice, whatever areas that are needed to be on the lists. Just make sure that they are in the proper order of importance following the schedule above.

3. Stick to a “Slacking Off” Schedule

Spend your other time focusing on other aspects of your calling that you want to improve on that are lower on the list. Look for a special interest in each subject for which you do not feel motivated. For example, if writing square dance choreography does not thrill you but you are interested in improving your knowledge of interesting and effective sequences, you may be able to set aside some time in your day to listen to an instructional CD to learn new ideas that you can incorporate into your dance program. Use your square dance checkers and force yourself to write a few interesting but simple ideas that will engage the dancers without spinning their heads off!

Related: 5 Methods You Probably Are Not Using With Your Choreographic Checkers

Make a progress chart for yourself and assess your progress. Modify your list if you have to. Additionally, make yourself a reward for working so hard in your practice. It can be a material item or simply a reward that you will enjoy in your life. Always reward yourself with a goof-off break that you can kick back on and relax with.

Hope this helps you in staying focused and on a faster and more direct path to calling improvement, whether you are just learning to square dance call, or you are an experienced square dance caller looking for a boost in stimulating some new personal calling tricks of your own!

Remember, it is OK to be a slacker, as long as you have earned the “slack off” time!

Best Regards,

Shaun Werkele





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 coaching 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.


Modern Western Square Dance Calling as a Business

The standard you set for yourself in the everyday work world that you were comfortable with and it was all good enough before was perfectly fine then. But it won’t be good enough to run your own business as a professional square dance caller.

There is nothing more frustrating than running out of money and realizing that you are square dance calling because you’ve got the guts to stand above it all and push through your worst month when there is no evidence of security. You really embrace what you do, and you’d do it for free if you had to. This is business as a square dance caller.

You do not punch a time clock, you do not settle into a daily workweek routine, and you do not get a weekly paycheck from an employer. You will travel quite a bit, you will become quite exhausted at times, you might even get lost looking for the dancing venue that you are booked to call for that night as you are saddled in your car between the rear end of a thrift store and a laundromat calling someone nearly a hundred miles away for some directions on Google maps!

Calling is a job that you have to love, but not for monies earned. Sometimes it does not pay very well at all.

But that does not matter, really. You do it because you love calling and what it represents to you inside. Calling is a way to express yourself and represent and embrace an art form that has a long and historic heritage. All experienced callers can tell of many times that they have struggled financially and they will all agree that you have to love what you are doing first and respect what square dance calling is.

It is about entertaining persons at some kind of social gathering, whatever that might be. You are an entertainer.

You are in the entertainment business!

Square dance calling as a business is in many ways similar to experiences you might deal with in other businesses. You will be confronted many times with your insecurities and fears, your abilities and limitations, your justifications, your integrity, and your inefficient time management. The big question is what do you do about all of this?

Ways to propel your business

First, like many things, promoting yourself requires discipline and focus. You need to take inspired action that feels tangible and is measurable. Anything that involves practicing or learning and advances your abilities will only help. Set a timer for 30 minutes and go to town on a practice session. Do not leave your work station, office or practice area. Do not go to the kitchen and peruse the fridge for nacho cheese spread, although the nachos are always spicy saucy good! Hey, just sayin’ stay focused.

  • Learn what way you like to call and stick to that and do it consistently and often
  • Once you have figured out what works within your entertaining personality and personal voice, selling to the dancers will be a thousand times easier, and this is simply because you will be working within your natural vibe
  • Practice the things you are weak on every time you practice, usually at the end of the practice session
  • Set up yourself a mailing campaign and combine that with a cold calling session at least once a week to find more business
  • Keep good records of expenses for your tax deductions
  • Send out thank you cards to every contact for every event you have called for to touch base once more and show appreciation

Make something happen, despite the fact that at times you will feel like you are totally wasting your time. Push against it all throughout the day everyday and you’ll make a difference in your progress in self-promoting, programming dances, your music selection, best teaching approaches, there are many areas to expand your business and advance your square dance calling as a profession.

Start at the bottom. Whenever you start at anything you are always at the bottom, so do your best, focus on building competence and credibility, and always reach for the next level up. Do this by learning the basics of square dance calling – timing, phrasing, applying command calls. Possibly taking voice lessons. Grasp a better understanding of choreography.

Tenacity is more important than having a lot of talent in many things. Calling is not really any different.

That’s how you gain experience and confidence.

Related:  Become a Master of Square Dance Calling

Having the ability to call square dances can be a gift or a curse depending on how you look at it and the affect it has on your life. On a positive note, working hard at your business often leads you in finding the strength and resilience to persevere and rise to the top.

Things will happen, hopefully mostly good, and  you will learn to accept yourself through all this because in order to get up every day and continue on, you simply rise up and do it…

…calling square dances.

Best Regards,

Shaun Werkele




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 coaching information provided here serves as a source for square dance calling education training 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.

Great And Original Choreography For Square Dance Singing Calls

Modern western square dance callers begin every dance by testing the capabilities of every dancer in every square, for everyone who has come through the door at every dance has an established dancing level. The primary objective is to present choreography that “breaks the ice.”  Additionally, this beginning part of the dance sets the pace for the rest of the evening on a social level – to get everyone out and mix, mingle and commence the gathering of fun with others. The ultimate goal is to straddle a line between dancing fun and engagement and you are feeling the waters in terms of everyone’s dancing ability – all of this while still providing choreographic interest for all. More involved and unique modern square dance choreography is something that should be presented more into the second tip of the night and expanded further on through the night’s program.

Below is a nice foursome of original and interesting Mainstream square dance singing call sequences that you can start using after the first
tip of the evening.

Just a little different from the normal run-of-the-mill figures that are used by most callers. I encourage you to use figures that will put a little challenge into your dancing program and this will be a great move – to instill originality and improve the dance ability on the floor.


CALLING TIP! Be prepared to either increase or decrease the level of difficulty at any dance by studying many choreographic possibilities ahead of time. Having ideas ahead of time will make it easier to adapt your choreographic program as you need to.

Heads (Sides) Promenade Halfway
Star Thru
Pass Thru
Step to an Ocean Wave – Girls Trade
Girls Run
Half Tag (the Line)
Split Circulate Twice
Swing Corner & Promenade Home

Heads (Sides) Right & Left Thru
Star Thru
Double Pass Thru
First Couple go Left
Next Couple go Right
Pass the Ocean
Star Thru
Slide Thru
Swing Corner & Promenade Home

Heads (Sides) Lead Right
Touch a Quarter
Split Circulate
Walk & Dodge
Partner Trade
Pass the Ocean
Boys Circulate & Girls Trade
Swing Corner & Promenade Home

Heads (Sides) Pass the Ocean
Those Girls Trade
Extend the Tag
Girls Trade
Veer Left
Boys Circulate & Girls Trade
Half Tag the Line
Swing Corner & Promenade Home

These figures are NOT difficult in positioning, however, they are NOT normal everyday singing call figures, either…and they are NOT predictable. These will strengthen any group of dancers in listening better and dancing more of the calls that do not get called as often as they should.

Try these out, they will come in handy when you have a dance with a bunch of really sharp dancers who are looking a little bored. You will also find that this choreography cannot be anticipated and therefore will be suitable for growth in all dancer’s capabilities long-term and that’s everywhere you might gig at any Mainstream level dance!

Shaun Werkele





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 coaching information provided here serves as a source for square dance caller 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.

Expectations in Square Dancing?

What do you think is expected from you as the square dance caller at a dance? Probably a lot more than you had initially realized. What do you expect of yourself as a caller, too? Expectations in square dancing completely set the bar for everything a square dance caller needs to stay focused on. So ponder upon some of the following ideas:

The Dancer’s Viewpoint

Reflecting upon a dancer’s perspective, expectations of you, as a caller, is someone who is perceived as knowing how to entertain with personality, showmanship, calling skills, and even humor. These also are some of the main ingredients to making a dance memorable. I like to think of myself as a successful entertainer with tons of hours of entertaining under his belt. I also have learned a lot about being a showman and how to respect my audience – in delivering interesting choreography, making engaging moments with the dancers, and always staying focused on delivering a professional performance. These are all virtues that every caller should strive for and every dancer expects these kinds of qualities at every dance they attend.

Being Organized and Focused

Based on the dancer’s needs, expectations and circumstances they will give you recommendations to other clubs. If you are dealing with an organizer of a special event, the same goes for that contact and the possibility of a referral. Remember that you, as an entertainer, handle all the preparations regarding negotiations, contracts and all other details with the club or event planner for the square dance event. In order for the total overall successful accomplishment of the event from start to finish you will have to be fully prepared. Spend time on your program, choreography, polishing up your performances and repertoire of songs.

Setting a Starting Point

Meeting expectations involves two things – motivation and choice – if you expect something that you want to happen, then you will choose the particular goals and activities to best achieve what you want as a successful outcome. This is so true of anyone who is a student caller looking for sources of motivation and choosing what to do (or not do) in their pursuit of advancing their square dance calling proficiency, and eventually, mastery and success in reaching their intended result. Set goals and focus on exceeding them. Like making your weak choreographic ideas stronger and your overall program better and more engaging.

Square Dance Caller Coach

The square dance coach’s overall role is to promote the growth and development of the beginning student caller and to improve learning and advancement of calling abilities and proficiency. When a new coach is hired, they will give a full study program and will be expected to impact learning in an extreme and effective manner at the very start, thereby initiating a period of apprenticeship for the new square dance caller student to benefit from. A really great coach will not only be knowledgeable, they will understand the expectations of the student within that new caller’s perspective.

Expect Some Self Reflection…

So set aside the program and the choreography for a minute and spend a little time thinking about the dancer’s expectations. Your expectations. If you are learning to call, what your square dance caller coach’s expectations are of you. Focus on your role and meet those expectations by being prepared to EXCEED all of those expectations.

Then you will develop stronger relations with everyone you deal with in the square dance realm, everyday!

Your end goal as a square dance caller is to always exceed dancer’s expectations, deliver a memorable and entertaining dance and make the persons who hired you look like a bunch of winners.

Best Regards,

Shaun Werkele




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 coaching information provided here serves as a source for square dance calling education training 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.