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Ed Durlacher - Central Park newsreel

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Ed Durlacher - Central Park newsreel

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Newsreel footage of square dancing in Central Park, New York City, in the 1940s. Ed Durlacher called to crowds in the thousands.

Jim Mayo: "I danced with Durlacher at Jones Beach in 1951 when I was working in Oyster Bay during the summer. It was absolutely mind boggling to watch him start with an empty floor and fill it with 1000 people off the sidewalk."

David Park Williams: "I once got to dance to the calling of the great Ed Durlacher in Central Park. He would get as many as 4,800 novices (600 quadrille sets), march them in a Grand March (2’s, 4’s, 8’s), set up a demo square, get every line of 8 into squares, and then with The Top Hands talk and dance them through "Honolulu Baby," "Life on the Ocean Wave," and other old favorites. In the 1940's Ed Durlacher had material out for square dancing for the blind, square dancing in wheelchairs, and if you haven't seen his wonderful Honor Your Partner (Bonanza Books, New York 1949) you've missed a treasure. He had "Guest Callers" in there: Lloyd Shaw, Ralph Page, Lawrence Loy, Al and Hal Brundage. Hal Brundage learned square dancing from his sons; he and his wife were part of the group with whom we went to dancing in White Plains."

Starting in 2012, a series of square dances was started in Bryant Park in midtown Manhattan, building on the Durlacher Central Park dances from decades earlier. The New York Times covered the dances with this story.

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1:22

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