Bryant Park Square Dance: Hoedown in the Heart of NYC

Remember that moment in middle school gym when the teacher announced the next unit would be Square Dancing? Did your entire class emitted a groan of angst and anguish?

I reckon this is the average American’s association with square dancing. That’s a darn tootin’ shame.


Now if you were in the heart of Manhattan last weekend, you may have a new-found association with square dancing. One of complementary cowboy hats, the moon rising of the New York Public Library, killer jams from a live band, and the Empire State Building. Most of all, of spinning around with locals and visitors who you would typically avoid eye contact on the subway with.

The fourth annual Bryant Park Square Dance took place Friday and Saturday evening, adding a special family focused Sunday afternoon.


I attended first Bryant Park Square Dance event ever in 2012, again in 2013, and I missed last year. It’s been one of my favorite fall events all along and it’s been especially awesome to watch it evolve over the years. The flimsy plastic cowboy hats of 2013 have been updated with really nice straw cowboy hats that Bryant Park just hands out to anyone.

Love the photo “booth” set up this year! + props (duh)

It’s pretty unbelievable that this event is completely free, especially when they added a mechanical bull and rope lasso lessons to the roster of activities this year.


I hate to disappoint, but I didn’t take a spin on the mechanical bull. LAME, I know! Next year!

Friday night’s featured band, the stellar Calamity Janes!

The most valuable new addition was definitely the free bag check. This was the first year I could come straight from the office without worrying about my bag ruining my do-si-do!

Best complementary cowboy hat ever! The bandana is my own 🙂

My plan was for this event to be a date. There’s a fella who I’ve grown quite fond of in the past couple months. This was the perfect opportunity to subject him to a theory I have: I don’t want to date anyone who is too cool for square dancing. 

Alas, my test was thwarted and the date canceled when said fella got called away on a last-minute business trip. His true reaction to square dancing remains unknown.

This couple knows square dancing is a great date (he sure passes my test)!

My date canceled, I hit up all my friends, “Who’s up for square dancing, y’all?” Everyone was busy, I couldn’t find a single person down for a hoedown. I still wanted to go but…but…what if flying solo at a square dance was middle-school-level awkward? Would I be the weird kid who had to dance with the gym teacher because no one wanted to be his partner?

Square dancing is all about inclusion and holding hands with anyone who wants to join the simple dances!

Then I thought about it as someone relatively experienced with square dancing and incredibly experienced with awkwardness. Square dancing was created basically for the sole purpose of meeting people.


There’s always someone who needs a partner, a group who needs another couple! If I started having middle school flashbacks, I could escape to the subway or promenade to the bar! And so I decided to attend Bryant Park Square Dance all by myself!


It was a blast! I ended up meeting some great people and was forced to be more social than I ever would have been had I attended with friends.

Check out the moon just rising above the library!

Bryant Park Square Dance is a fantastic New York fall event. Don’t miss it next year! Bring all your friends or even go it alone and make some new ones! More info on this year and years past:
You can also check out my blog post from 2012:


About New York Cliche

NYC lifestyle blog by Mary Lane. Events, adventures, epic mistakes, dating, life, humor. A 20-something trying to make it (and make out) in the city of dreams.

4 thoughts on “Bryant Park Square Dance: Hoedown in the Heart of NYC

  1. Ahh it looks like it was even more fun this year! You’re making me sad that *I* bailed on myself when I didn’t have anyone to go with. I went by myself one year and had a blast but wasn’t up to going into Manhattan for it this weekend.

    And I fully approve of your date plan! Too cool for square dancing means they take themselves too seriously.

  2. Good for you having the insight that square dancing is enriched with human contact and exchange in ways that other dancing isn’t. Maybe it’s the presence of coordinated, directed movement and the absence of individual display and/or the bodily intimacies of “ballroom dancing.”

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