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Between Those Ladies (clip) - Ray Smith

This 1953 clip features Texas caller Raymond Smith introducing the seeds of modern Western square dance style at Camp Becket in Massachusetts. He's calling "Between Those Ladies" by Toby Allen, a variation of the traditional figure "Right Lady High, Left Lady Low."

The form of square dancing that became MWSD started in the 1940s when callers…

Red Warrick - Heel and Toe (clip)

Texas caller Red Warrick, on a rare recording on the Dude label, with music by Till's Square Dance Band. (See related materials here.) The tune is Golden Slippers, but this recording provides an excellent example of calls that are not phrased to the tune. For a caller of traditional New England material, this would be heresy, but Warrick is…

Red Warrick - Dip and Dive (clip)

The dip and dive figures appear in many variations in the square dance repertoire. One common singing square has the figures set to the tune Redwing, while other callers chant the figures to Little Brown Jug. Here, Red Warrick chants the figures in a steady, rhythmic patter that does not fit the phrase of the music. Other examples of the dip and…

Texas Square Dances - Rickey Holden

This is a detailed description of three Texas squares, presented by Rickey Holden as an exhibition dance at the fourth annual New England Folk Festival, November 15–16, 1947. Holden based much of his material on Herb's Blue Bonnet Calls (Herb Greggerson, 1946).Holden had originally wanted to present three dances intact, as they are described…

"Abilene lift" - Rickey Holden

Caller Rickey Holden calls and dances the "Abilene lift," a style of movement created and popularized by west Texas caller Bob Sumrall. The 1-2-3 shuffle of feet gave the dancers a smooth movement; Holden has written that "at one time, at every dance, the entire floor could be heard to move, everyone, in unison, with an almost mystical, magical…

Square Dance Institute - Rickey Holden, 1950

Syllabus of a workshop led by Holden in Massachusetts in 1950, introducing Texas style square dancing to New England dancers. In addition to notes on figures and styling, this handout included directions for some sample Texas dances. From the introductory remarks:

"One of the most common misconceptions about Western square dancing is that all of…

Abilene Lift - Rickey Holden

An early description by Rickey Holden of the so-called "Abilene lift," a distinctive style of incorporating a two-steps into square dance movement.

Balance & Swing (TX)

Edited and published by Swede Soderberg and Jim White, with an all-star cast of advisors: Ray Smith, Joe Lewis, and Bill Palmer

Cowboys' Christmas Ball - Anson, Texas

Poem written in 1890 describing the Cowboys' Christmas Ball in Anson, Texas. For more information about the author, see this website on cowboy poetry. The Ball continues, following the original rules requiring women to wear skirts and men to check their hats and spurs. Chittenden's poem was set to music and included in John Lomax's Cowboy Songs and…

Jimmy Clossin - card, biography, flyer, letter, news story

Jimmy Clossin was an influential Texas caller who unfortunately never recorded commercially. (This Square Dance History Site would dearly love to post clips from live recordings—please contact us if you know of any.) Shown here are several items: • his business card • a letter in which he outlines his terms to call for a club…

Square Dance festival programs

This collection of more than two dozen festival programs from the 1940s until early 1960s gives a good sense of what material was being called as well as names of featured callers.

In chronological order, the festival programs in this collection are:
Texas, 1948
Albuquerque, 1949
Minnesota, Winona, 1949
Minnesota, Winona,…

Houston Square Dance History

Detailed history of the growth of square dancing in the Houston area in the years after World War II. It includes a summary of highlights from the area's annual square dance festival that started in 1949. The article can also be found here on the web. Excerpts from the beginning of the history: In the early 1940s, there were two small square dance…

1954 National Square Dance program - Dallas

This is the program for the 3rd National Square Dance Convention, held April 8–10, 1954.