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Cowboys' Christmas Ball - Anson, Texas

Poem written in 1890 describing the Cowboys' Christmas Ball in Anson, Texas. For more information about the author, see this website on cowboy poetry. The Ball continues, following the original rules requiring women to wear skirts and men to check their hats and spurs. Chittenden's poem was set to music and included in John Lomax's Cowboy Songs and…

Texas Cowboys - dance poems and lore

A collection of pieces related to square dance in southwest cowboy culture, published in 1925

Pardners - Jerry Lewis square dance

The 1956 film Pardners, starring Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, originally had a square dance sequence with Jerry Lewis as the caller, testimony to the role that square dancing had in American popular culture at that time. Bob Osgood coached Jerry Lewis in the art of dance calling. This short clip is from the trailer, but the actual dance sequence…

"How We Do It In Our Town" - Emmette Wallace

This is a series of articles comparing how basic figures are taught and danced in different parts of the country. The first segment appeared in October, 1949, in American Squares, and the series continued occasionally until October, 1951.

Fifty Miles from Times Square

This is an excerpt from John Cohen's 1972 film, used here by permission of the filmmaker.

caller: Herb Strickland
musicians: Bud Snow, Jay Ungar, Lyn Hardy, Abby Newton, Tom Allen

Fiddler Jay Ungar, seen in the dance footage, writes: "The dances were started by the Concerned Democrats in Putnam County, NY to raise money for the McGovern…

Dancing with Style - Lloyd Shaw

Lloyd Shaw's Cheyenne Mountain Dancers took the country by storm on their many cross-country trips; their stylish dancing, and Shaw's ideas on the subject, influenced subsequent generations of dancers, especially in the new movement to what we now term modern square dancing. In his Shaw attempts to explain what he means by stylish dancing.

The Lloyd Shaw Foundation in Action

This 1972 film describes the many activities of the Lloyd Shaw Foundation at that time. The movie was written and narrated by Don Armstrong, and produced and edited by Truett Myers.

In addition to dance sequences—squares, contras, rounds—there are scenes of caller training classes, teaching dances to children, and singing.

Malcolm McLaren, Buffalo Gals

Hip hop video riffing on square dancing, released in 1982

Using squares at a contra dance - Beth Molaro

Caller Beth Molaro, of Asheville, NC, is a well-known caller who loves calling both contras and squares. In this clip, talking with Dennis Merritt, she explains some of her thinking that goes into deciding when to call a square at a contra dance, when in the program to put squares, what sorts of squares she uses, and how different kinds of music…

El Paso dancing, 1939

Square Dancing in downtown, El Paso, Texas, recorded during the Sun Carnival of 1939. We don't know for certain, but it's likely that these dancers were coached by El Paso caller Herb Greggerson. Pay special attention to the 1-2-3 footwork.

Pearl Beer square dance commercial

This mid-1950s advertisement for Pearl Beer features San Antonio television personality Thomas Reynolds. The square dancers are dancing in the West Texas style popularized in the 1930s by caller Bob Sumrall. Known as the "Abilene lift," the dance style has dancers doing a 1-2-3 shuffle step with a slight lift during the brief pause after the third…

History of Square Dancing - Ralph Page

Between 1972 and 1974, Ralph Page wrote a series of essays entitled A History of Square Dancing. For ease in downloading, we have collected them into "chapters" that group together similar topics. The essays were published in the magazine Square Dancing as follows:Dancing In New England 11/1972The Revolutionary Era 1/1973Direct Ancestors…

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…

Come Square Dancing (Australia, 1953)

Note: The file no longer appears in preview mode. To view it, click on the link at the top right hand corner of this page.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…

Fiddling to Henry Ford - Literary Digest, 1926

Henry Ford attracted considerable attention when he showcased the dance fiddling of Mellie Dunham, from Maine. This lengthy contemporary account describes that relationship in detail.

"Mr. Ford aspires to revive the dances of our granddaddies, with all their innocent, neighborly cavorting, and he is going about it in the methodical, wholesale…

Pageant of American Square Dance History, 1959

This lengthy presentation of square dance history was presented at the Eighth National Square Dance Convention in Denver, 1959. Researched and organized by Dorothy Shaw after Lloyd Shaw's death in 1958, the pageant presented two hours of dance, from two English country dances (first edition Playford, 1651) up to Joe Lewis calling Alabama Jubilee.…

Florilla Perkins Ames, Vermont

Florilla Perkins Ames was 102 years old when she recorded this interview. She lives in northern Vermont, and remembers her father calling dances. Before that, her mother's grandfather used to play fiddle for dances: "In fact, in this house where I am right now they used to dance squares upstairs, in the 1800s."

Square Dance Caller's Workshop - Larry Edelman

Starting in 1988, Larry Edelman led a series of classes for square dance callers at weekend and week-long dance camps. This is the basic text for that course, included with his permission. The 52-page Workbook contains philisophy, teaching tips, dance figures, and a lengthy bibliography.You can view videotaped interviews of Larry talking about…

Monday Night Square Dance History (Minneapolis)

This is an excerpt from "Monday Night Fever," a Minneapolis community television program produced in 1986 by Bruce Davis, who provides the narration. The film is an introduction to the Monday night square dance that began in the Twin Cities in 1979 and has been running--with a few interruptions and changes of venue--ever since. In this segment,…

Square Dancing in the 1800s

Fred Feild is a long-time caller and square dance enthusiast; now living in Tucson, he was instrumental in creating the Chicago Barn Dance Company in the mid-1970s. In recent years, he has started looking through historical sources for contemporary accounts of square dancing, and he posts his findings on a Word Press blog. Generous in sharing his…

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