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Lancers, 5th figure - Wayside Inn, 1932

This home movie is one of eight reels filmed in the 1930s at the Wayside Inn, Sudbury, MA. (More information about these films is available here.) The Inn at the time was owned by Henry Ford. Ford had encountered dancing master Benjamin Lovett at the Inn and hired him to come to Michigan to teach dancing there to his employees. This is the earliest…

Bob Aylward - caller biography

This is an excerpt from an unpublished memoir by Robert Aylward, who called square dances in the Boston area, starting in the 1930s. It's a detailed portrait of the evolution of a caller.

Farmhouse Fiddlers: Music & Dance Traditional in the Rural Midwest

This is an excerpt from a detailed and loving look at what the author terms "house-party music." His focus is Wisconsin, and he based the book on interviews with nearly 100 musicians and dancers. Profusely illustrated with photographs and quotations from the interviews, all carefully cited in the appendices.An early section describes "the pioneer…

Square Dance in Haywood County, NC

Detailed look at western North Carolina, a region rich in square dance traditions including that of Sam Queen and the Soco Gap Square Dancers. Jamison starts his article with a look at the turn of the century house dances and "Shindigs" then surveys the grand hotels and the tourist trade. His survey continues through the post World War II era.

American Country Dancing on Colorado's West Slope

The article is based on oral history collected in 1979, though no footnotes or direct quotations are included. Instead, it is a generalized summary of the author's findings.

"Depending on the orchestra, both "country" (squares, polkas, schottische, etc.) and "city" (ballroom) dancing were popular around the turn of the century. Among the local,…

A Look at Square Dancing in Colorado

"Square dancing evolved a western version probably sometime in the late 1800s when the pioneers moved to settle the states west of the Mississippi. It was a square dance form that was much different from the Eastern Quadrilles and different still from the Kentucky Running Set which was probably the other source. It was more exuberant and much less…

Adirondack Square Dancing

The author describes her experiences traditional square dancing in the Adirondacks from 1918 to 1965, when she began modern squares. This story appeared in the final edition of Ralph Page's Northern Junket magazine.She describes how, as a 19-year-old school teacher (1933), she boarded with a family who had a dance at their house each Saturday…

Colorado dancing - Cal Campbell

Dance caller Cal Campbell started dancing at age 6 in 1943; he has written a series of reminiscences of his experiences growing up in a small Colorado town and the vital role that dancing played in the social life of that community."Dancing in Uruvan and Rifle" begins with his parents meeting at a dance in 1934; "The Girl in the Gingham Dress" is a…

Frontier Dances - Bob Cook

A native of Colorado, Bob Cook's dancing experiences go back to the time when he was a seventh grader at the Cheyenne Mountain School. He was a member of the Cheyenne Mountain Dancers from 1939 to 1941. In this series of articles published Square Dancing magazine from May 1971 thrugh September 1972, Cook looks at a series of chapters that created…

Square Dance Fight on Ball Top Mountain

Phil Jamison: These are square dance skits on two sides of a 78 (Vocalion 5419) with a few random calls by John Dilleshaw (aka Seven Foot Dilly) of Paulding County, GA. It was recorded in Atlanta in 1930. The "Square Dance Fight" was one of many dance skits that were recorded in the late 20s and early 30s. Most of them simply have a few calls for…

Al Brundage recollections

Al Brundage wrote these recollections of his experiences growing up in Connecticut and the growth of square dancing. His story includes discovering square dance as a boy, followed by the whole Brundage family getting involved in the activity and forming the King Street Pioneers. He mentions some of the important figures in the Northeast in those…

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Square Dance—A Social Recreation Aid (1937 article)

Article explaining the basics of square dance, the importance of the caller, the structure of a set, appropriate music, two methods for how to swing, and sample dances. Dance directions are given for Swing Andy Gump, "Single File, Indian Style," Cast Off Six, The Girl I Left Behind Me, Lady Round the Lady, Double Grapevine Twist, Two Lone Gent Do…

The Barn Dance Returns! (1937 article)

Article in Recreation magazine giving detailed directions for holding a barn dance:

"There is joy and laughter, rollicking rhythm, sociability and informality in barn and country dancing which is largely lacking in the more sophisticated social dances of today. Perhaps that is why the barn dance is returning. Once young people-and the…

Oldest Square Dance Club?

Pictured above, taken when the Kilowatt Eights danced at the PSC Garage from 1939-1942, (L to R): Andy Anderson-Violin & Bass, Stew Clark-Banjo, Russ Levine-Piano, Jim Cook-Violin, Tom Parfet-Drums, George Boles-Violin, Joe Lang-Caller.American Square Dance magazine conducted a search for the oldest square dance club. This is the article…

Soco Gap Dancers at the White House

This is the program for the evening entertainment provided for the visiting King and Queen of England at the White House, Thursday, June 8, 1939. Among the performers (see page 5) were the Soco Gap Square-Dance Team, directed by Sam Queen and presented by Bascom Lamar Lunsford.

Eleanor Roosevelt was interested in traditional dance, witness her…

Square Dance, McIntosh County, Oklahoma – 1939/40

A series of color slides taken by Russell Lee at an Oklahoma dance in 1939 or 1940. More information about the first one can be found here. A larger sample of the photographs is available here at the Denver Post website and the complete set of color images is on Flickr. Detailed information about the photos and their background is here on the…

Douglas Kennedy on American dances, 1939

Douglas Kennedy succeeded Cecil Sharp as director of the English Folk Dance and Song Society. He visited the United States in 1939 to teach dancing and to observe what he could while in this country. While he was in the south, a Smoky Mountain square dance leader, D. B. Hendrix, organized a demonstration of southern Appalachian dancing for Kennedy,…

Mica Flats, Idaho - traditional dance

This article describes traditional dances in Mica Flats, Idaho, eight miles south of Coeur d'Alene. It was written by Penn Fix as a chapter in his book, Contra Dancing in the Northwest.

Old Time Square Dancing on Ocracoke Island, North Carolina

Author Bob Dalsemer discovers a long tradition of the "big circle" square dance on this island off the North Carolina coast, far from the Appalachian Mountains where it is usually encountered.