Dancing Rounds at Tech Squares

Tech Squares alternates square and round dances. If you're a member of the club, you know how to dance club-level squares. If cued partner dancing looks like fun, you should give round dancing a try, too!

Learning Rounds

How do I learn Rounds?

You come to Early Rounds. These are rounds classes that meet for an hour before our weekly square dances (7–8pm). The classes vary thoughout the year; we offer classes for beginners several times each year (typically in January, February, and September).

What if I'm in the squares class and going to 7:30 walk-thrus?

You need to talk to your Class Coordinator. It is up to the two of you to decide what is best for you. We often encourage people taking the square dance class to wait until they have finished that class before starting to learn rounds. Both our squares and rounds classes are fast-paced, and you have an opportunity to begin learning rounds twice per year.

Round Phases and Rhythms

What kinds of dances do you do? What is the format for rounds?

Rounds includes a variety of dances, or rhythms; At Tech Squares, we usually dance Two-step, Waltz, Cha-Cha, Rumba, Foxtrot, and occasionally Tango, Jive, or Slow Two Step. Round dances have cues instead of calls and are organized into phases instead of levels.

We dance rounds at three levels of difficulty: easy, intermediate, and advanced, which typically correspond with Phases II, III, and IV, respectively (not phase I). Each set of two rounds cued are at the same level of difficulty, and usually progress easy-intermediate-advanced and back over the course of the evening. Start by trying the easier ones.

Is there a Phase I?

Technically, yes, there is.

However, there are very few dances that are Phase I. The figures in Phase I are extremely basic: walk, balance, step, cross, etc. They are so basic that it's hard to create a Phase I dance that's interesting, so all of Tech Squares' classes start with Phase II and fold the Phase I figures into the teaching.

When a round dance is "Phase II+1", what does that mean?

This means the dance contains Phase II figures, plus one other figure, probably Phase III. The cuer will usually say what the "other figure" is.

Other questions

Who should I ask about Rounds?

If you have any questions about round dancing, find one of our rounds coordinators, who have little Rounds Coordinator labels dangling under their Tech Squares badges. There is also a low-traffic mailing list for those interested in round dancing (no experience necessary, just interest!). To subscribe, go to the tech-squares-rounds list page and fill in the form. You can also ask on that list who the current coordinators are.

When are classes offered? What are they like?

Rounds classes are offered every week just before Tech Squares, from 7–8 pm. Unlike the squares class, which takes 13 weeks, we break the rounds classes up into month-long pieces. Just like the squares class, you don't need a partner, and you should expect to change partners frequently. We normally ask new dancers to take one of the beginner's classes (September, January, February) first, but if you're interested in starting rounds at some other time, the April, May, June, and November classes assume no knowledge of the particular type of dance being taught, and are also an appropriate for new round dancers to start.

Each month of lessons covers a different rhythm/difficulty combination. The schedule of classes is available on the web at http://www.mit.edu/~tech-squares/schedules/rounds-sched.html.

One way to learn round dancing is to come to our classes before Tech Squares. Each month usually starts with a technique class for that month's rhythm, taught by Jessica Wong. For the remainder of the month, Tech Squares's cuer, Phil Gatchell, will teach lessons focusing on the various steps of that dance.

If you miss the first week of the month, feel free to come to the second week anyway--although Jessica's classes are excellent and we're very lucky to have her as a club resource. If it's later in the month, talk to one of the rounds coordinators; we can often catch you up on the classes you've missed. Please try to arrive for rounds classes promptly at 7 so that we can begin on time and avoid unnecessary review.

Why do I want to learn steps?

In round dancing, as in square dancing, everything has a name, and you have to know the name to respond to the directions given over the microphone. Round dances have beautiful choreography written to fit the music, but you have to know the names of the steps to appreciate the choreography.

Why do I want to learn technique?

Why you want to attend Jessica's technique classes: round dancing is a form of partner dance (along with ballroom, swing dancing, and others). Technique teaches you how to dance with a partner--not merely next to them--and makes it more fun for both of you.

How else can I learn? Can I just jump in and try?

Yes, another way to learn rounds is to just get up and try them! For squares, we discourage dancers who have not learned a level yet from joining a square, because if you can't dance the level, you can decrease the enjoyment of the other 7 people in the square. For rounds, your ability and experience only affect you and your partner. If you get up on the floor and have a good time, as long as you don't crash into any other couples (hint: keep moving counterclockwise around the circle most of the time), that's great!

When in doubt, dance; you can always leave the floor if the dance is too hard for you. So don't be shy about trying rhythms or levels you haven't learned yet, but please be courteous and warn any unsuspecting partners if this is your plan.

What part should I dance? Does it matter? Can I swap?

Traditionally men dance the lead part and women dance the follow part in round dancing. Tech Squares isn't your traditional square dance club, of course, and you should feel free to pick whichever part you want to learn. However, the two parts are very different, much more so than in square dancing, so we strongly recommend that you choose one of the two parts, and stick to it for at least a year before starting to learn the other part.

How do I find a partner?

As in squares, you can ask someone to dance or be asked. Many of the more experienced round dancers enjoy dancing with new round dancers and helping them out; feel free to ask!