The Guide to IAGSDC Convention Chapters 1-3

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Introduction: What is the IAGSDC® and What is "Convention"?

Each year, the International Association of Gay Square Dance Clubs (A Lesbian & Gay Organization) holds a square dance convention. This is often referred to simply as "Convention". In addition, many IAGSDC® member clubs hold square dance weekends, called "fly-ins." These are so called because out-of-towners often fly in for the weekend.

Going to Conventions or fly-ins can seem like a pretty complicated process to first-timers – but it's not that bad. Really.

Most first-timers report that the only thing they didn't like about their first Convention was in not knowing what to expect.

If you're a new dancer, take heart -- this article was written by experienced dancers, with the goal of making Convention and fly-ins as fun as possible for you! We'll take you through the entire Convention experience from start to finish.

Remember, every experienced square dancer – and caller! – started off as a new dancer.

While all of this guide – such as what to pack, taking care of yourself, and travel arrangements – applies to the annual IAGSDC® Convention, some of it also pertains to local fly-ins.

"Hey, there's a lot of information stuffed into this guide!"

Well, there's a lot happening in and around each Convention!

  • Take your time, and read through the Guide at your leisure.
  • The Guide was translated from a static document to the IAGSDC History Wiki (what you're reading right now!) in 2010. It was just easier to make it available online this way than to continually revise and re-upload a static document.
  • Some people have reported it's easier for them to print off a copy of the Guide to read. The printed version (which has not been updated since 2010) can also be highlighted with a marker.

Although one person (Allan Hurst) wrote the Guide, a lot of the information here originated in a simple list of hints he compiled from many different people in many different IAGSDC® clubs years ago. It started off as a half-page, then grew to one page, then grew to two pages, and then people started asking for more details, and eventually grew to become this nearly fifty-page-long document. Allan revises the Guide annually.

Some of the clubs whose members have contributed to this document over the years include: El Camino Reelers, Foggy City Dancers, Santa Cruz Squares, Squares Across the Border, Triangle Squares, Desert Valley Squares, Tinseltown Squares, Rosetown Ramblers, Heads to the Center, Chi-Town Squares, Raleighwood Squares, Stanford Quads, Anywhere Squares, DC Lambda Squares ... and many, many others.

My apologies to contributors from any clubs I've left out by mistake ... if I missed you or your club, please let me know, and I'll add it in the next revision.

In the Guide, you may see some suggestions attributed to specific people. That's why the Guide often uses the pronoun "we" instead of "I" ... rather than being an indication of schizophrenia, this is our way of indicating that compiling this guide was a community effort to make things easy for our newer dancers.

So read on, and join us in the fun of the dance ... and the annual convention!

Laying down the dance floor}Laying down the dance floor for the 2005 Convention in Santa Clara

"Me? Go to Convention?"

Most IAGSDC® clubs go into a frenzy as Convention time nears each year. This generally happens just about the time that the latest class is preparing for graduation. Sometimes, this excitement makes new dancers a bit nervous.

It's common for new dancers to have concerns such as: "What if I mess up in a square?" "If I break down my square, will I bring shame down upon the heads of my club?"

You'll soon discover such fears are groundless. You stand a far better chance of bringing ridicule upon yourself for wearing white shoes after Labor Day, than of embarrassing your club by making a few dance mistakes at Convention.

Often, new dancers who are approaching graduation are reluctant to make plans for Convention. Our advice: if you're planning on graduating, make plans to attend Convention to "lock in" your newly developed dance skills.

Contrary to what many students believe, newly-graduated dancers attending Convention or fly-ins become stronger dancers than those who stay home.

Most Conventions offer a special first-timer rate. Sponsored by All Join Hands and All Join Hands Canada the rate for first-time attendees is usually much lower than the rate you see in the last few months before Convention.

(Back to the Guide To IAGSDC Convention Table of Contents.) (Forward to Guide Chapter 4.)