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Cindy - Graham Rigby

Graham Rigby, author of "My Life's a Dance," was an Australian caller. Here he does a traditional American square dance figure.

Shoot the Owl (clip) - Hollis Johnson

Hollis Johnson (1897–1996) was born in Eastland County, Texas. This dance figure was introduced decades later by Sandy Bradley and appears on her "Potluck & Dance Tonite" album.

MacNamara's Band - Irene Hewitt

Irene Hewitt was an Australia caller, here doing a well-known singing square.

Square Dance Revival in Lincoln [Nebraska], 1940–1950

This detailed booklet describes the revival of square dancing in Lincoln, Nebraska, and offers resources to encourage further growth. After introductory sections describing the historical background of squares in the area, the authors describe qualities needed to be a square dance caller. They include numerous examples of patter and singing calls,…

Saturday Night Square Dance - Jim Boyd, 1949

"Saturday Night Square Dance" was released in 1949 as a Soundie; the footage included here is all that we have been able to locate. (We would appreciate information from anyone having a complete copy of the film.)

Featured here are Jim Boyd and His Men of the West. Jom Boyd was the brother of Bill Boyd, well known for western swing music, and…

Joe Lewis - Callers Class

This is a fragment of a callers' class led by Joe Lewis; unfortunately, we do not know the location or the date. Lewis comments, "When a lot of people suddenly do the same thing wrong, the caller did it." He focuses a lot of this session on problems of timing the delivery of calls: "If you can't see the timing errors in a singing call and try to…

Chicken Plucker - Lee Helsel

This is an excerpt of a 1957 recording (Sets in Order #1102) by Lee Helsel that was the first recording of the Chicken Plucker routine created by Bill Shymkus. The dance figures appeared in the October 1957 issue of Sets in Order; the same issue contained ads for the new record release. This routine has been cited by caller and historian Jim Mayo…

Captain Jinks / Divide the Ring - Leonard Hurst

Two clips from Colorado caller Leonard Hurst, who came to Australia in 1951 to do a series of radio broadcasts. He played an important role in spreading square dance to that area. More information about him is on p. 8 of the extensive series of articles here.The first dance, Captain Jinks, is a singing square; the second is patter.

Square and Couple Dances with Directions and Calls - Lloyd Shaw

This is a supplement to Cowboy Dances and Good Morning that was used in a 1947 summer session 1947 at the University of Colorado. "Most of these dances have been taken from the mimeographed material supplied by Lloyd Shaw during his 1945 summer class at the Cheyenne Mountain School, Colorado Springs, Colorado. Some of the variations described are…

Swanee River (clip) - Mac McKendrick

McKendrick can also be heard on this site calling a singing square to the children's song, Shoo Fly, Don't Bother Me.

Come Square Dancing (Australia, 1953)

Modern square dance came to Australia in a big way in the early 1950s, spurred in large part by two visits by American caller Joe Lewis in 1950 and 1951. This series of articles, in magazine format, from 1953, describes the history of the activity there as well as providing a look at key organizers and callers at the time.You can hear a series of…

Swing yore partner round 'n round (The Desert Magazine, 1944)

Author Oren Arnold describes square dancing in Arizona in the early 1940s:

"...A rock fireplace big enough to stand in was at one end of the room, and its blaze made dancing shadows everywhere. Indian blankets hung on the walls beside an austere picture of grandma in a golden frame. A rifle rested in deer antlers, and doors had been burned with…

Pancho Baird - square dance medley

This is a rare home recording made by Pancho Baird, a medley of singing squares:

End of the World
Alabama Jubilee
Rose of San Antone
Down Yonder
You Call Everybody Darling

Lady of Spain - Pancho Baird

Home recording by Pancho and Marie Baird.

Square Dances in Western Style

A handbook of basic dance figures, written by a Virginia dance caller in the early 1950s.

Monadnock Folkways brochure - Page & Gowing

Brochure describing the summer program created by Ralph Page and Gene Gowing. Also included is an article by Gowing describing his idea for an "American Folkways" school. (This latter item appeared in American Squares, June, 1950.)

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…

Denver Wagon Wheel / Triple Duck - Rickey Holden (instr.)

Caller Rickey Holden teaches the "triple duck" figure, also known as the Denver Wagon Wheel. (In his "Square Dances of West Texas" booklet, Holden credits the figure to Joe Lang, of Denver.) A subsequent video shows that figure being danced. Recorded in Denmark in 1999. The accompanying diagram shows the key figure.