Solution to Everybody Dance Now

by CJ Quines, Ixa, Max Murin

This is a puzzle about square dancing, which we might realize by searching phrases like "bow to your partner and your corner too". Briefly, the way square dancing works is that a group of dancers follow a series of instructions, or calls, to move from position to position. Every dancer begins holding a letter. After certain calls, certain groups of dancers are asked to shift their letters forward by the specified amount.

Knowledge of square dancing can be substituted by Taminations, which has a helpful sequencer for inputting a series of calls. (The app is one of the first results if we Google calls like "scoot chain thru".) By carefully tracking the letter of each dancer, we get these letters:

Timestamp Instruction B1 G1 B2 G2 B3 G3 B4 G4
Start O A A A A A A O
0:51 Sides pass the ocean O A A A A A A O
0:54 Ends of the wave +15 O A P A A A P O
0:57 Ping pong circulate O A P A A A P O
1:01 Couple closest to caller +22 O A P W A A L O
1:05 Centers swing thru O A P W A A L O
1:10 Very centers +22 K A P W W A L O
1:12 Extend K A P W W A L O
1:15 Check that waves are BBGG K A P W W A L O
1:20 Centers of each wave +24 I A P U U A L M
1:25 Anagram letters of four people closest to
caller to form word meaning party (LUAU)
I A P U U A L M
1:30 Centers scoot back, ends circulate I A P U U A L M
1:36 Four people closest to caller +19 I T I N N A L M
1:40 Circulate I T I N N A L M
1:44 Four people furthest to caller +23 I Q I N K A I J
1:50 Centers scoot back, ends circulate I Q I N K A I J
1:55 Four people in wave nearest to caller +16 Y Q I D K Q Y J
2:00 Scoot chain thru Y Q I D K Q Y J
2:05 Centers of wave nearest to caller +16 Y Q I D A Q O J
2:10 Extend Y Q I D A Q O J
2:12 Center six +7 F X P D H X V J
2:16 Right and left grand, promenade home F X P D H X V J
2:25 Exactly two people share a letter (G1=G3=X),
no vowels
F X P D H X V J
2:35 Heads lead right F X P D H X V J
2:37 Heads +6 L D P D N D V J
2:40 Circle to a line L D P D N D V J
2:43 Four people furthest to caller +25 L D O C M C V J
2:48 Dixie diamond L D O C M C V J
2:53 Person nearest to caller +19 E D O C M C V J
3:00 Very centers trade twice E D O C M C V J
3:03 Very centers +24 E D M C M C T J
3:05 Centers alter the wave E D M C M C T J
3:11 Person nearest to caller +17 E D M C D C T J
3:17 Diamond circulate E D M C D C T J
3:23 Four people in diamond nearest to caller +1 E E N C E C T K
3:28 G2, B3, B2, B4 spell something that's of
little value (CENT)
E E N C E C T K
3:40 Centers swing thru E E N C E C T K
3:47 Check that in facing diamonds E E N C E C T K
3:50 Exchange the diamond E E N C E C T K
3:55 Four people in diamond nearest to caller +5 J E N C E H Y P
4:00 Cut the diamond J E N C E H Y P
4:02 Two boys nearest to caller +6 P E N C E H E P
4:06 Circulate P E N C E H E P
4:08 Two girls nearest to caller +8 P M N C E H E X
4:13 Recycle P M N C E H E X
4:15 Two people nearest to caller +14 D A N C E H E X
4:20 Allemande left, promenade home D A N C E H E X

The dancer's letters spell out DANCEHEX. Searching for "square dance hex" in Google leads to pages about hexagon dancing, a variant of square dancing for 12 people rather than 8 people. The phrase clues us to do the same instructions for hexagon dancing rather than a square. Alternatively, if we were familiar with hexagon dancing, we could have realized this through the weird instruction "very centers trade twice", which doesn't do anything in a square.

Although Taminations doesn't have a sequencer for hexagon dancing, it does shows hexagon animations for individual calls. This can be enabled by going to Settings, then selecting Hexagon under Special Geometry. (Enabling the setting is clued in this Tech Squares page, which is also one of the first results when Googling "square dance hex".) Following the same instructions gives us this table:

Timestamp Instruction B1 G1 B2 G2 B3 G3 B4 G4 B5 G5 B6 G6
Start O A A A A A A A A A A O
0:51 Sides pass the ocean O A A A A A A A A A A O
0:54 Ends of the wave +15 O A P A A A P A A A P O
0:57 Ping pong circulate O A P A A A P A A A P O
1:01 Couple closest to caller +22 O A P A A A L W A A P O
1:05 Centers swing thru O A P A A A L W A A P O
1:10 Very centers +22 K A P A W A L W W A P O
1:12 Extend K A P A W A L W W A P O
1:15 Check that waves are BBGG K A P A W A L W W A P O
1:20 Centers of each wave +24 I A P Y U A L U U A P M
1:25 Anagram letters of four people closest to
caller to form word meaning party (LUAU)
I A P Y U A L U U A P M
1:30 Centers scoot back, ends circulate I A P Y U A L U U A P M
1:36 Four people closest to caller +19 I T P Y U A L U N A I F
1:40 Circulate I T P Y U A L U N A I F
1:44 Four people furthest to caller +23 F T P V U A I U N X I F
1:50 Centers scoot back, ends circulate F T P V U A I U N X I F
1:55 Four people in wave nearest to caller +16 F T F L K Q I U N X I F
2:00 Scoot chain thru F T F L K Q I U N X I F
2:05 Centers of wave nearest to caller +16 V T V L K Q I U N X I F
2:10 Extend V T V L K Q I U N X I F
2:12 Center six +7 V T C S K Q P B N X P M
2:16 Right and left grand, promenade home V T C S K Q P B N X P M
2:25 Exactly two people share a letter (B4=B6=P),
no vowels
V T C S K Q P B N X P M
2:35 Heads lead right V T C S K Q P B N X P M
2:37 Heads +6 B Z C S Q W P B T D P M
2:40 Circle to a line B Z C S Q W P B T D P M
2:43 Four people furthest to caller +25 B Z C S P V O A T D P M
2:48 Dixie diamond B Z C S P V O A T D P M
2:53 Person nearest to caller +19 U Z C S P V O A T D P M
3:00 Very centers trade twice U Z C S P V O A T D P M
3:03 Very centers +24 U Z A S P V M A T D N M
3:05 Centers alter the wave U Z A S P V M A T D N M
3:11 Person nearest to caller +17 L Z A S P V M A T D N M
3:17 Diamond circulate L Z A S P V M A T D N M
3:23 Four people in diamond nearest to caller +1 M A A S P V M A T D O N
3:28 G2, B3, B2, B4 spell something that's of
little value (SPAM)
M A A S P V M A T D O N
3:40 Centers swing thru M A A S P V M A T D O N
3:47 Check that in facing diamonds M A A S P V M A T D O N
3:50 Exchange the diamond M A A S P V M A T D O N
3:55 Four people in diamond nearest to caller +5 M A F X U V M A T I O N
4:00 Cut the diamond M A F X U V M A T I O N
4:02 Two boys nearest to caller +6 M A L X A V M A T I O N
4:06 Circulate M A L X A V M A T I O N
4:08 Two girls nearest to caller +8 M A L F A D M A T I O N
4:13 Recycle M A L F A D M A T I O N
4:15 Two people nearest to caller +14 M A L F O R M A T I O N
4:20 Allemande left, promenade home M A L F O R M A T I O N

The dancer's letters spell out the answer, MALFORMATION.

Authors’ Notes

The idea early on was to write a square dance puzzle that involved doing something again in a square dance variant. (Indeed, very early; this is the earliest puzzle idea in our database that made it to the hunt!) When we realized that the same sequence of calls could single out different people in a square and hex, the rest of the mechanic came from there.

The construction of the sequence was a bit involved. We needed sequences that resolved so that dancers ended where they began in both a square and a hex, which is why there's the weird "very centers trade twice". Thankfully, we only needed to use that trick once.

Getting the letters to work out was much easier in comparison: after we've fixed which group of people is identified by each call, getting the right shifts amounts to solving a system of linear equations modulo 26, which a computer did for us.

Some miscellaneous notes. It's neat how "center six" meant something different in a square and a hex. When we wrote and recorded the script, we had to keep in mind to avoid any explicit mention of the number of people, so we couldn't say things like "the eight of you". We were stuck on coming up for the title of the puzzle for a while, but when we got the title, that pretty much directly led to the background music, "Gonna Make You Sweat".