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Members of the press welcome!
This is where you can learn more about the 40th IAGSDC convention that took place in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada in July of 2023.
Read on to learn more about the event and the people who were behind it and don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions.
LGBTQ+ individuals have historically found it difficult to participate in the “straight” square dance world and have often been made to feel like they didn’t belong there.
While they are finding more and more acceptance in modern times, it was not the case back in the early ’80s when the IAGSDC was formed to help promote the sport and to give LGBTQ+ dancers a place where they could be themselves and dance with their peers without fear of persecution or prejudice.
The result is a quasi parallel world of square dancing that has evolved alongside the rest of the square dance world but that includes a great deal of cooperation between the straight and gay clubs.
LGBTQ+ square dancers tend to be a bit younger and more affluent than their straight counterparts and they dance with quite a bit more energy and flair, making them the envy of many when they attend straight events.
The International Association of Gay Square Dance Clubs is the administrative body that encompasses all LGBTQ+ square dance clubs in the world. It has members from Canada, the US, Europe and Asia and currently supports 57 clubs.
The IAGSDC holds a convention every year where club delegates can participate in workshops and meetings to discuss aspects of square dancing but the biggest reason for convention is for LGBTQ+ square dancers (and allies) to get together to dance to some amazing internationally renown callers and to socialize with their peers.
Yearly attendance at convention has ranged from the low 600s to over 1,100 dancers.
Note: The 2020 and 2021 conventions were online only due to COVID-19 and did not require registration so we have no numbers for them but the Zoom sessions were well attended. The 2022 convention was held in person in Minneapolis, however the numbers were lower as many were still not comfortable about gathering in larger numbers.
As of June 5, 2023 there were 680 dancers registered to attend the Ottawa convention.
Our convention acted as a boost to Ottawa’s economy, bringing in an estimated $3M into local businesses.
A picture is worth a thousand words and this is true about square dancing. It’s hard to understand gay square dancing unless you’ve seen it.
Check out our YouTube channel where we posted numerous videos taken during the convention and especially the media coverage (in the Media playlist) that was recorded during the event.
The Ottawa Date Squares is an LGBTQ+ square dance club based in Ottawa, Ontario. They have existed since 1995 and are full members of the International Association of Gay Square Dance Clubs (IAGSDC) and the Eastern Ontario Square and Round Dance Association.
Over the years they have hosted several “fly-in” events which bring in dancers from all around the region and also from cities in the USA. The club features dancers of different ages, genders and sexual orientations and has very strong ties to other IAGSDC clubs and to other local EOSARDA groups as well.
The Date Squares are very heavily involved in the organization of the Ottawa 2023 convention but unlike other conventions that are organized by the local city’s IAGSDC club alone, Ottawa 2023 is a joint effort with the Toronto Triangle Squares. Bringing in expertise from other clubs will ensure that this convention will be one of the best ever held.
The IAGSDC has held conventions in Toronto and Vancouver but this is the first time it was held in Ottawa. The novelty of the new location and the charm of the nation’s capital is surely what peaked the interest of our American cousins and it’s the reason we saw much greater attendance than in past years.
This event showcased the rich diversity that exists within the LGBTQ+ community in Ottawa and it will to have long lasting positive effects on the community as a whole.
In an age where more and more people are turning to social media and dating apps to make connections, gay square dancing is just the thing to help bring people together in the real world… face to face.
It is a yearly tradition to hold a special tour, called the Fun Badge Tour, which visits several interesting landmarks within the city.
Attendance on these tours is high and this year’s tour completely sold out at 250 dancers who were be loaded onto coach buses and shown around our beautiful city.
There were 4 stops on this tour (Landsdown, the RCMP stables, the Museum of History and the National Arts Centre) and at each stop, everyone climbed off the buses and square danced for 10-15 minutes before re-boarding the buses to head to the next stop.
These flash-mob style events were a delight to witness and a joy to take part in.
Our YouTube channel includes footage taken during this special tour.
The IAGSDC convention is many things to dancers and non-dancers (spouses, retired dancers, curious) alike. Some of those reasons are:
- Meetings to conduct club business and to plan how to promote our activity
- Yearly family reunion with old friends
- Workshops to improve skills and learn new dance moves
- A reason for a vacation and to visit a new city
What the IAGSDC convention is not, is competitive. There are no contests or competitions. We really are only in this for the sheer joy of dancing and the friendship and camaraderie it brings.
Here are some highlights of the activities that took place during this convention:
- Opening and Closing Ceremonies
- Banquet with awards ceremony
- Special dances that we refer to as Specialty Tips (ex: women only, bears, leather, disco, mobility challenged, etc…)
- Introduction to square dancing (July 5, 7-9:30pm)
- Tours around the city and to popular sites including:
- Fun Badge Tour (flash mobs)
- Signature Event
- Boat Tour
- Walking tours
- Unwind after dancing at Ruby Lounge and Toto’s Tavern (July 5-8, 9pm to close) – Open to the public
- Drag shows and live entertainment
- Piano Bar
- Alternate dance events:
- Contra Dance
- Country & Western, Line Dance
- Olde Tyme Barn Dance
- Lots and lots of square dancing to amazing internationally renowned callers!
Want to know more?
Use this form to reach out to us and we’ll get back to you as soon as we are able.