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Rural Leaders' Guide for Square and Group Dances, 1951

From the forward: "This circular is designed to assist rural leaders in teaching square and group dancing and in conducting organized recreational dancing activities." After several pages of introductory material, including selection of records and guidelines for teaching, the booklet begins with "Socializers for Square Dance Parties," a collection…

Syllabus of Square Dances, Rickey Holden 1949

This is a syllabus created by Rickey Holden for a callers' workshop held in San Antonio in 1949. The course was 2-1/2 hours each night for five days. It's a useful primary source document showing the state of square dancing at that time and place.

The dance descriptions in the appendix (starting with A1) are especially for historians because…

Bob Brundage autobiography

Bob Brundage's autobiography, This Is My Square Dancing Life, is a detailed and informative history. Brundage writes engagingly about the traditional square dances that he and his brother Al were involved in as boys, describing in detail the social context of the dancing in that time and place. He talks about the family's square dance band and the…

Yellow Rose of Texas - Dad Brundage

Dad Brundage was the father of Al and Bob Brundage, each of whom became well-known modern square dance callers. In his autobiography, This Is My Square Dancing Life, Bob Brundage writes, "Then when I left for college in 1941, also at the University of Maine, Dad started to call dances at home. Everyone thought that Al and I learned to call from Dad…

GLBTQ Square Dance history

In recent decades, as modern square dancing has been declining overall, one of the growth areas was in the LGBTQ community. This short history, prepared for this SDHP item, offers a brief look at the early years of that movement, and provides a link to a much more detailed and lengthy (250 pages) history of groups affiliated with the International…

Dancing's Dilemma - Dancing Around Denver

Dianne Gum hosted a public access show in Denver for some 15 years. In this hour-long program, recorded in 1996, she is joined by veteran caller Cal Campbell to discuss challenges facing modern square dancing. Many of the comments and disturbing trends that the two discuss have been borne out in subsequent years.Cal Campbell notes, "It’s now…

Marlbrouk Cotillion

This dance turns up in the Revolutionary War years of the United States. Here it's danced by a group of students from Brigham Young University. Note the bouncy rigadoon step, which originated in French dance of the 17th century. The tune is known by generations of young children as "The Bear Went Over the Mountain."This video clip is part of the…

"The Good Ole Days" - Olcutt Sanders, 1949

Dance historian Olcutt Sanders asks, "As you unwound yourself from the mazes of the latest square dance concoction introduced at your club meeting, did your ever wonder how people ever got along without the inventive genius of today's callers? Did dancers of an earlier generation actually keep coming back for more even without a new trick or twist…

Suzy Q - Jim York (clip)

Taking the Grand Cuttyshaw figure from Rickey Holden and renaming it the Suzy Q, caller Jim York released an album and this figure to a wide audience in the early 1950s. The basic figure is the same as the Georgia Rang Tang from southern Appalachian square dancing: opposite person right hand turn, partner left hand turn, etc.

Texas squares

Caller Rickey Holden is well represented on this site by clicking this link. A playlist of many Holden videos posted by SDHP on YouTube can be accessed here. It includes these dances from his repertoire in Texas in the late 1940s: Denver Wagon Wheel (triple duck) Texas Whirlwind Texan Whirl Suzy Q (Grand Cuttyshaw) Spinning Wheel Four in…

Suzy Q - Grand Cuttyshaw - Rickey Holden

Holden's name for this dance was the Grand Cuttyshaw, which he published as "traditional New Mexico" in his 1992 booklet, "Square Dances of West Texas." A note there reads, "This traditional figure, with this title, was sent from Texas to caller Jack Hoheisal in California, who renamed it "Suzy Q"; so much for tradition vs. the power of the press!"…

Texas Whirlwind - Rickey Holden

Holden teaches the figures, starting with a review of Catch All Eight, a traditional figure from West Texas that became part of modern square dance: right hand turn halfway around, then left hand turn once and a half. Holden leads dancers through some introductory figures to practice just this piece. After a few minutes, he teaches the figures for…

New-Fangled Dance Craze Hits Hollywood Bars Hard

Sherman Sanders was an actor who played a square dance caller in Hollywood movies starting in the early 1940s. His credits include Bowery Buckaroos, The Devil And Daniel Webster, Lure Of The Wilderness, Ride 'Em Cowboy, Roseanna McCoy, Star Spangled Rhythm, A Stolen Life, and The Andy Griffith Show. Described in the article as "Hollywood's No. 1…

Cowboy Square Dances of West Texas

This booklet provides an introduction to West Texas square dances. After a detailed glossary, complete with diagrams, the author provides a sample of dances as they might be called. The patter is marked in italics to separate it from the crucial dance figures, and the author notes that he has attempted to include a wide variety of patter. Each…

A Tennessee Square Dance

Caller David Hendrix presents a overview of typical figures that he would use in a "square dance" in his region of East Tennessee.He notes that the dances in his region are related to the so-called Kentucky running set, although the style has changed over the years.

Appalachian Circle

A brief look at southern Appalachian circle dances. The author points out how unfamiliar four-couple squares would be to a dance from that region:---A native of the Appalachian Circle country which includes most of Southeastern United States, does indeed find the four couple set of the North and West and Southwest quite different from the home…

Catskill Mountains square dance - 1950s

Short clip showing teenagers dancing; the caller plays accordion, joined by a fiddler and a drummer. You can see the men turning the ladies under as they pass them on a grand right and left.

Larry Edelman - roots of early modern square dance

At a 1992 workshop in Denmark, caller and dance historian Larry Edelman explains influences that created the early forms of modern square dance in the years after WW II. Callers drew on figures from both New England and southern Appalachian traditions, used them in new ways, and created new figures (in this dance, a cross trail), leading to a new…

Chaney scrapbook & photo album

Duane and Shirley Chaney (Council Bluffs, Iowa) were enthusiastic square dancers in the early 1950s. They attended Square Dance Institutes with Les Gotcher at Kirkwood Lodge (Osage Beach, Missouri) in 1953, 1954, and 1955. Shirley collected photographs and documents from their square dance events and assembled a scrapbook and photo album, including…

IOCA Barn Dance 1942

Events sponsored by the IOCA, the Intercollegiate Outing Club Association, provided the introduction to square dancing for many young dancers. Students from colleges and universities in the Northeast would go off on trips-- backpacking, rock climbing, hiking-- and evening activities were often built around square dances. The repertoire in this…