Gene Trimmer's book Square Dance Calling Fundamentals attributes the birth of Modern Western Square Dancing to Herb Greggerson in 1948. The introduction starts:
When Herb Greggerson, along about 1948, began calling "Pass Thru, Split That Ring and Around Just One," the kind of square dance choreography we think of as 'modern' was born. In this kind of choreography dancers learn a number of "basic" movements (instead of learning entire dance patterns as they once did) and the caller, by the use of these basics, moves dancers through a series of "grid", line and column patterns toward an ending known only to himself. While the dancers have stopped memorizing dance patterns, callers still use a large number of memorized routines which today's dancers can often figure out after one time through, and can anticipate the movements if the routine is called a second time.
Notes from Cowboy Dances
In "Cowboy Dances" published in 1939, Lloyd "Pappy" Shaw asks "Could it have been the sixties to the nineties that slowed the waltz down till it died?"
Substitute "square dance" for "waltz" and we could be asking the same question now...
Reading through patter Shaw proposes, I'm seeing examples like
All jump up and never come down
Swing your honey around and around
'Till the hollow of your foot
Makes a hole in the ground.
Promenade, boys, promenade!
Clearly we need to stop with the slow sedate stuff and kick it up a notch.
Regarding teaching kids:
One last word ! Please do not teach these dances to little children. Grade-school pupils may enjoy them but it will mark the dances forever in your community with the stigma of "kid stuff." Well-meaning gymnasium teachers have taught the splendid circle folk dances of the peasants of Europe to girls' gymnasium classes and to little children, until folk dancing is popularly thought of as "sissy stuff," and most manly chaps will have nothing to do with it without a deal of tactful educating. Not only are the dances so vigorous and manly and strenuous that they are quite unsuited for girls' classes or children but they will thus be killed for everyone. If, in your community, you can start the dances with the manliest and most popular young fellows, with older men mixing in, the program will become a great joy. But if you see any well-meaning woman trying to teach them to children or to classes of girls, please rush to the nearest court and get out an injunction to keep her from robbing the adult public of a precious sport that really belongs to it.