There is an alarming trend that seems to be increasing over time related to the number of Square and Round Dancers who are independent and don’t belong to clubs. Membership is the lifeblood of Square and Round Dance clubs. Without members, Square and Round Dance clubs cannot flourish. Taken to the logical conclusion, if all Square and Round Dancers were to go the independent route, there would no longer be a basis for clubs. Clubs need members for financial support (to pay the rent, expenses such as Caller and Cuer fees and other sundry expenses). Similar to businesses, clubs need their income to exceed their expenses in order to continue to exist. Of course, if the club has money in the bank, they can exist until their funds are depleted. In order for a club to be viable for the long haul, it needs to be self-sustaining. Ideally, that means that the club has enough members to cover its expenses. Some of the slack can be taken up by door fees from visitors, however, clubs that must rely on visitors are at risk during periods when they don’t get enough visitors and have to pull money out of the bank in order to pay their expenses. Clubs that don’t have enough members to pay their expenses and therefore must rely on visitors are in jeopardy of going under.
If the number of nonaffiliated dancers continues to increase and club roles continue decrease, we are in jeopardy of losing the activity. Logically, the less clubs there are, the less opportunities will be available for dancing. Taken to its logical conclusion, if this trend continues, Square and Round Dancing will be in a death spiral. Of course, there are Caller-Run and Cuer-Run clubs that may thrive in this environment. However, these are few and far between and most attempts for Callers and Cuers to organize such groups tend to fail. In the Greater Houston area, I’m only aware of Three successful Caller/Cuer-Run clubs: The Prows and Tammy Lee run a successful Round Dance groups and Bob Baier has a successful Advanced Square Dance group.
In addition to paying expenses, membership in a club brings a sence of belonging. The whole premise of a club is that a group of like-minded individuals band together in order enjoy some activity or common interest. If you enjoy Square and Round Dancing and want to see Square and Round Dancing continue to exist and ultimately thrive, consider joining or sustaining membership in a Square or Round Dance Club.