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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.

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.

El Paso Star - Bill McGrath

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

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.

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…

Lady of Spain - Pancho Baird

Home recording by Pancho and Marie Baird.

Pancho Baird - square dance medley

This is a rare home recording made by Pancho Baird, a medley of singing squares:

End of the World
Alabama Jubilee
Rose of San Antone
Down Yonder
You Call Everybody Darling

Feature Square Dancer - Nebraska, 1956

These are excerpts from two early issues (Vol. 1, #1 and #4, both 1956) of the Feature Square Dancer, a newspaper published by Bill Shilling, brother of Colorado caller Marvin Shilling. To see similar publications, browse the Square Dance magazines collection.Some of the articles, notably those in a single column, will appear distorted when viewed…

Chicken Plucker - Lee Helsel

This is an excerpt of a 1957 recording (Sets in Order #1102) by Lee Helsel that was the first recording of the Chicken Plucker routine created by Bill Shymkus. The dance figures appeared in the October 1957 issue of Sets in Order; the same issue contained ads for the new record release. This routine has been cited by caller and historian Jim Mayo…

Square Dance Revival in Lincoln [Nebraska], 1940–1950

This detailed booklet describes the revival of square dancing in Lincoln, Nebraska, and offers resources to encourage further growth. After introductory sections describing the historical background of squares in the area, the authors describe qualities needed to be a square dance caller. They include numerous examples of patter and singing calls,…

Asilomar 1953 - Sets in Order Summer Institute

Note: Several of these files are large and will take longer to load.The first three files are part of the binder presented to participants at the 6th annual Sets in Order Institute held at the Asilomar Conference Grounds, Pacific Grove, CA, in 1953. The staff included Bob Osgood, Joe Lewis, Ralph Maxhimer & Fenton "Jonesy" Jones. (The last file…

Square and Couple Dances with Directions and Calls - Lloyd Shaw

This is a supplement to Cowboy Dances and Good Morning that was used in a 1947 summer session 1947 at the University of Colorado. "Most of these dances have been taken from the mimeographed material supplied by Lloyd Shaw during his 1945 summer class at the Cheyenne Mountain School, Colorado Springs, Colorado. Some of the variations described are…

Youth in Square Dancing

This is a thorough look at how to involve younger dancers in square dancing, prepared by Sets in Order and published in the 1960s.

The handbook opens with an essay by Ralph and Zora Piper on "The Child's Nature and Square Dancing." Among other topics discussed are:
• A Bit About the Teacher
• Finding a Good Place to Dance
• Tips on…

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Square Dances in Western Style

A handbook of basic dance figures, written by a Virginia dance caller in the early 1950s.

Square Dance Party handbooks

These handbooks, published by Bob Osgood and Sets in Order, describe how to plan a square dance party. They offer a look at modern square dance culture in the years from the early 1950s through the mid-1960s.• So You're Going To Give a Square Dance Party was prepared by Osgood in 1950 for Capitol Records.• The Record Square Dance Party…

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Basic Movements of Square Dancing

This early handbook from Sets in Order provides detailed instructions for 20 basic figures, "the foundation movements for most square dancing." As such, it offers an overview of what was considered essential in the early years of MWSD.Many figures contain subdivisions; for example, Figure 16 is Arch and Under: a. Inside Arch - Outside Underb.…

ABC's of Square Dancing

This informal guide to square dancing is aimed at beginners, an easy-to-ready pamphlet that a caller could distribute to dancers in a class. It strikes a friendly tone:

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So you wanta' square dance?

There are probably a million different reasons why you got started in on this square dancing thing. Maybe it was just the need of a good…

5 Steps to Better Dancing

The "5 Steps" of the title can be taken literally; this tiny handout, illustrated with stick figures, is all about how to move on the dance floor:

1. Keep both feet on the floor, don't walk. [Instead, use a shuffle step.]
2. Keep weight forward
3. Stand tall, move lightly
4. Take smaller steps
5. Listen to the music, dance to the music

Catalogs

This collection of seven catalogs from the 1950s and early 1960s illustrates the range of materials offered to participants in the early square dance boom years, from recordings to clothing to badges and caller PA equipment.