Squaring the unsquare

I’m having some geometry trouble, I guess. Or maybe it’s just simple arithmetic. It started out last night when I was watching a television show last night that used Dave Brubeck’s “Unsquare Dance” very nicely in a scene. It’s a very catchy number in 7/8 time that starts out with a simple clapping rhythm before it progresses to something much more complex, ending with a little minor key “shave and a haircut, two bits” tail. Very smart song there.

I felt like listening to it again, so I went to YouTube. One of the most popular videos for the song was this:

Man, that was square. I know as soon as I post this somebody is going to tell me that those dancers were revolutionary in modern dance and so not square, but come on. That was just so square. Was that dancing not square back then? Some character in the YouTube comments is trying to convince everybody that this clip was from the Smothers Brothers Summer Show, which would make it automatically cool and not square, but it’s pretty clear from subsequent comments that the facts don’t match up.

Dave Brubeck is cool, but I think I can safely say that he’s also got more than a whiff of square about him. He smiled all the time, for one thing. His music is what my mom listened to while cleaning the house prepping for bridge parties, for another. Dave Brubeck is great, but so is See’s Candies Bridge Mix. Square.

What does it mean when a square person calls something they’re doing unsquare, and then it gets accompanied by something really square? Does that make it more square or is the whole thing flattened down into a line? It’s making my head hurt. I could use a good circle left and a do-si-do right about now.

Published in: on February 25, 2015 at 10:02 am  Comments (2)  
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  1. […] couple of months ago I posted a video of some farm dance set to American jazz. Today I watched a farm dance set to Soviet-era Russian jazz. You know, I spent a fair amount of […]

  2. The clip is not really from the Smothers Brothers Summer Show (which was actually called the “Summer Brothers Smothers Show” and was hosted by Glen Campbell, who would permanently replace Tom and Dick when CBS fired them). There was apparently an entirely different number performed on that show to “Unsquare Dance,” which is where I think the confusion ensued. This clip is from much earlier than the late 60s run of the Smotherses and their summer replacement – late 50s or very early 60s, I would guess. It’s from a special the Brubeck Quartet did in Australia, and you can see the whole thing here (with the dance number turning up about seven and a half minutes in):


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