In Southern California (SoCal), square dance clubs have been following the same model since the early eighties: teach new dancers the PLUS program, and host periodic dances featuring guest callers. The central focus for clubs differs. Some emphasize socialization more than others. Some enjoy a little more of a challenge in the dancing. Whatever the focus for any particular club, no one will argue that recruitment is not becoming increasingly more difficult.
There is active discussion taking place in other forums about the reasons why attracting and retaining dancers is so tough. For the moment, let us set aside the problem of recruitment and focus on keeping the rare few who make it through a 30+ week class to become so-called PLUS dancers.
Clubs seem to believe that the average dancer can be trained to dance PLUS in the time they allot for their classes. Yet, their new dancers often experience a big shock when they graduate from class and attend the club dance on a Friday or Saturday night. They quickly learn to one degree or another that they have to struggle to keep up, or that they cannot, in fact, do so.
Realizing that the size of the shock might make the difference between keeping or losing those precious new dancers, clubs are beginning to dumb-down the initial dances their new dancers are expected to attend. Some clubs shift between levels at their dance, offering alternating tips of MAINSTREAM and PLUS. Some simply instruct their guest caller to coddle the new dancers with “easy” material. Some do both. This has the potential of being dissatisfying for everyone.