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Let's Stop Hashing Our Squares

This essay, written more than 60 years ago, speaks to the longstanding tension between those who like predictable dance figures and those who seek continual variety. The author admits "that I am just as guilty as those I condemn. Perhaps in the past I have been, but after giving much thought to the matter, in the past year I have quite generally…

"Wild Bill" Reagan

Duane "Wild Bill" Reagan was a square dance caller perhaps best known for his performance at the Expo 74 festival in Spokane, Washington. Featured here are two clips of his calling at that event, a live recording made by musician Pop Wagner:* Cheat or Swing* Docey Out as She Comes in(Note: Audio clips will take a while to load. They will appear…

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…

West Coast Blues - Blind Blake

There were hundreds of 78 rpm records with dance calls released in the 1920s and 1930s; this clip from Blind Blake's "West Coast Blues" is one example. Other African Americans callers who appear on 78s are Sam Jones, who recorded in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1924 (Billed as Stovepipe No. 1), Jim Baxter, an African American Cherokee guitar player from…

Bible Grove Square Dancers, Bethel, Missouri, 1989

Dancers from Bible Grove in Scotland County, MO at the Bethel Fiddle Convention, Bethel, MO. June 1989. Fiddling by Chirps Smith and Charlie Walden. Others in the band are Forrest Rose on bass, Dennis Buckhannon and Dave Copeland on guitars and Emily Buckhannon on piano. The actual dancing begins at 3:45 in the first clip.

The caller is Burrell…

Darling Nellie Gray - Happy Hale

Happy Hale was a caller from Bernardston, MA, and some have speculated that Ralph Page patterned his style as a singing caller on Hale's technique. Other Happy Hale recordings at the Library of Congress are a mix of contras and squares: Hull's Victory, Pop Goes the Weasel, Morning Star, Miss McLeod's Reel, Merry Widow, a Quadrille, Lady Walpole's…

Darling Nellie Gray - Ralph Page (clip)

This dance was Ralph Page's signature closing dance for an evening program. Compare it with Happy Hale, whom some think was Page's source for the dance. There are many examples of this classic singing square on our website.

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…

Lloyd Shaw Foundation Summer Workshop, 1971

Brochure describing a 1971 summer workshop presented by the Lloyd Shaw Foundation in Colorado.

Let's Square Dance - instructional films, 1950s

In the mid-1950s, Janet R. MacLean, a professor in the Indiana University Department of Recreation, produced a series of six instructional films to introduce square dancing. The films, each approximately 10 minutes in length, show young dancers, probably students at the university, demonstrating different dance figures. Dancers wear large numbers…

Shall We Dance? - Maine, 19th century

This article, written by theMaine Memory Network Curator and Historian for the Maine Historical Society, takes two mid-19th books as a focal point for looking at etiquette and social status as reflected on the dance floor. H.G.O. Washburn's 1863 Ball-Room Manual of Contra Dances and Social Cotillions with Remarks on Quadrilles and Spanish Dance…

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.

El Paso Star - Bill McGrath

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

Sally Goodin - Eddie Carol & his Corn Cobbers

Eddie Carol, called by some "the greatest authority on the American square dance In Australia," was a leading Australia caller who specialized in a singing patter style of calling after making a trip to the U.S. in 1943. Here he does a version of the traditional American dance figure.

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.

Ladies Chain Through the Stars - Bob Hunt

Bob Hunt was a prominent Australia caller, based in Victoria, who in the 1950s was calling six nights a week.

MacNamara's Band - Irene Hewitt

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

Polly Wolly Hoedown - Eddie Evans

Eddie Evans was an Australian caller.