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"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…

5 Steps to Better Dancing

The "5 Steps" of the title can be taken literally; this tiny handout, illustrated with stick figures, is all about how to move on the dance floor:

1. Keep both feet on the floor, don't walk. [Instead, use a shuffle step.]
2. Keep weight forward
3. Stand tall, move lightly
4. Take smaller steps
5. Listen to the music, dance to the music

A Night at Sunny Hills

Album cover, inside text, and a related record label. This recording, from 1951, illustrates what was considered appropriate material for experienced square dancers at that time in southern California, one of the hotbeds of interest in square dance.

ABC's of Square Dancing

This informal guide to square dancing is aimed at beginners, an easy-to-ready pamphlet that a caller could distribute to dancers in a class. It strikes a friendly tone:

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So you wanta' square dance?

There are probably a million different reasons why you got started in on this square dancing thing. Maybe it was just the need of a good…

Allemande Hash - Carroll White

Another dance from "A Night at Sunny Hills," a series of records "for experienced square dancers," released in 1951. As the name suggests, the Allemande Hash contains variations on allemandes, starting with "Allemande thar" and including some from the so-called Allemande Alphabet that was starting to be developed: • Allemande left and an…

Asilomar 1953 - Sets in Order Summer Institute

Note: Several of these files are large and will take longer to load.The first three files are part of the binder presented to participants at the 6th annual Sets in Order Institute held at the Asilomar Conference Grounds, Pacific Grove, CA, in 1953. The staff included Bob Osgood, Joe Lewis, Ralph Maxhimer & Fenton "Jonesy" Jones. (The last file…

Barn Owls square dance club

Items connected with one mid-1950s square dance club:

• Program for 3rd anniversary dance, 1954, including club roster
• Invitation to 5th anniversary party
• invitation for regular dance
• stationery and envelope

The Barn Owls club was hosted regular dances at the Gardena Barn, Gardena, CA, in the Los Angeles area.

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Barnacle Bill (clip) - Cal Golden

Cal Golden was a prominent modern caller; another audio clip on this website shows him at the giant 1950 Santa Monica square dance, being introduced by Lloyd Shaw. He was a caller with deep Arkansas roots who called in all 50 states.See this entry on Vic and Debbie Ceder's website for more information and a photograph. The Ceders write: "The term…

Basic Movements of Square Dancing

This early handbook from Sets in Order provides detailed instructions for 20 basic figures, "the foundation movements for most square dancing." As such, it offers an overview of what was considered essential in the early years of MWSD.Many figures contain subdivisions; for example, Figure 16 is Arch and Under: a. Inside Arch - Outside Underb.…

Buffalo Girls - 1927

The recording is [Tommy} Dandurand and his Barn Dance Fiddlers, recorded in 1927, with caller Ed Goodreau. Dandurand was a fixture on the National Barn Dance on WLS radio in Chicago. For a detailed appreciation of this program, see fiddler Paul Tyler's post on his DrDosido blog.The dance follows a familiar pattern: First lady (and others on…

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.

Catalogs

This collection of seven catalogs from the 1950s and early 1960s illustrates the range of materials offered to participants in the early square dance boom years, from recordings to clothing to badges and caller PA equipment.

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…

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.

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…

Denver Wagon Wheel / Triple Duck - Rickey Holden (dance)

Caller Rickey Holden teaches the "triple duck" figure, also known as the Denver Wagon Wheel. (In his "Square Dances of West Texas" book, Holden credits the figure to Joe Lang, of Denver.) Another video on this site video shows that figure being taught. Recorded in Denmark, 1999.

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.

Don Messer - souvenir booklet

The Don Messer Jubilee Show toured extensively, bring Down East music, song, and dance to audiences throughout the US and Canada. Messer was well known thanks to his weekly television show broadcast and three-times-a-week tadio broadcasts.

The short biography below came with his Messer's induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame in…

El Paso Star - Bill McGrath

Bill McGrath was one of the leading callers in Australia, a self-taught patter caller based in Melbourne.