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Bob Sumrall

Bob Sumrall was the leader of the Abilene Set, a group that he started around 1938 (when he was 20); this group of Texas square dancers won the Texas square dance competitions year after year, and they popularized the "Abilene lift" style of footwork. This is an account from the Texas square dance journal Foot 'n' Fiddle.

Texas Square Dance Contests

These are a series of newspaper clippings made by J. Olcutt Sanders, documenting Texas square dance competitions. (Unfortunately, most of them are undated.) We assume that these are from Fort Worth; the articles refer to the Southwest Exposition and Fat Stock Show, an annual event that is still ongoing in Fort Worth, now called the Fort Worth Stock…

Bob Sumrall - Olcutt Sanders correspondence, 1939

These letters between Bob Sumrall and J. Olcutt Sanders provide a glimpse into Texas square dances in the late 1930s. Sanders was a serious student of square dance history, part of a group of enthusiasts in the Austin area and later one of the editors of Foot 'n' Fiddle magazine. Born in Fort Worth in 1917, he graduated graduated from the…

1940 Texas Square Dance Contest

Newspaper accounts of a square dance competition won by Bob Sumrall's Abilene set. The story goes into detail about each of the six competing teams,naming each of the dancers, the judges, and the organizers, and describing clothing, figures performed, and tunes used in the competition. An accompanying column (p. 3 of the PDF) reveals that paid…

Abilene Lift - Rickey Holden

An early description by Rickey Holden of the so-called "Abilene lift," a distinctive style of incorporating a two-steps into square dance movement.

Texan Whirl - Rickey Holden

Rickey Holden calling the Texan Whirl figure attributed to caller Bob Sumrall, an influential caller starting in the 1930s in Abilene and other West Texas communities. The distinctive part has the women circling left underneath the men's arms making a right hand star, and then each woman rolls back around the gent behind her to reform the circle.…

"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…

Bill Litchman 1 - Traditional Western Squares

Caller Bill Litchman discusses characteristic features of traditional western square dances, incorporating his memory of Colorado dances that he encountered starting in the 1950s.For a more detailed look at this topic, see Litchman's article on Rocky Mountain Square Dancing.