Stanford Quads

Square Dance Club

Hand Positioning

by Bill van Melle, October 23, 1994

You may never have thought about hand positioning when dancing; you just grab the other person's hand. However, for smooth dancing you really need to have some agreement about whether you should hold your palm up or down when you take that other hand. For some reason, the tendency out in the real world is that men put their palms up and women put theirs down, so very likely when you squared up the first night this is what you did. However, as you may have noticed, this generalization breaks down when you have two women or two men together in a couple, as often happens over the course of a dance.

At most Mainstream and Plus clubs, what happens is the men put palms up, the women put palms down, and the infrequent same-sex couples fight about it, with the more insistent one winning. Most dancers in the Advanced and Challenge community have adopted a more sensible convention, which we follow at Quads: always put your right palm up and your left palm down. While this handhold may seem awkward at first, shortly it will become second nature, and it never fails: your palm-up right hand will match perfectly with the next dancer's palm-down left hand. The major exception seems to be Circle to the Right/Left, where people generally prefer to hold both hands in the same direction. There is also some dispute over Single Circle to a Wave [a Plus call], which is best done beau palms up, belle palms down, but there is much variance. At any rate, be aware that when you go to a Mainstream or Plus hoedown people from other clubs are likely to have "men palm up, women palm down, fight about it when necessary" habits.

By the way, the temporary hand hold in the middle of Courtesy Turn (the last part of Ladies Chain) also follows the traditional rule: man's left hand palm up, woman's left hand palm down.

Last updated Wednesday 8 August 2007