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Items from "MWSD": 355

Today's Whirling Confuses Old-Time Square Dancers

This 1957 newspaper story from central Massachusetts describes a dance culture in transition, as traditional New England square dancing was meeting up with -- and in some cases being replaced by-- the new modern Western style.

A Brief History of "Hash"

This is a chapter from Instant Hash that appeared in American Squares magazine. Litman and Holden define hash as "a mixture of figures which come one after another so quickly that often there is no real figure pattern but merely one movement on top of another," and go on to describe several kinds of hash. They trace different regional styles of…

Learn Square Dancing - Ed Gilmore

These are two tracks from Ed Gilmore's instructional square dance LP, "Learn Square Dancing," released on Decca in 1956. The album included instructional segments such as these with short practice pieces set to music, as well as four full called dances. The record came with an 8 page booklet, with liner notes by Chuck Jones. A search for…

Settin' the Woods on Fire - Bob Ruff

Borrowing the tune from the popular Hank Williams song of 1952, this excerpt features caller Bob Ruff with music by the Buckboard Busters on the Sets in Order label. The "lady 'round two and the gent around one" figure also appears in southern Appalachian mountain square dance as "lady round two and the gent cut through" or simply a figure known as…

I Only Want a Buddy - Herbie Gaudreau

Singing square, I Only Want a Buddy Not a Gal, by Massachusetts caller Herbie Gaudreau

Hurry, Hurry, Hurry - Herbie Gaudreau

Classic singing square, here in a live recording (1960s?) with caller Herbie Gaudreau. Today's contra callers probably know Gaudreau better than do contemporary square dance callers; his Becket Reel is the source for today's "Becket formation" in contras, with long lines of couples, each facing another couple across the set. Tony Parkes comments:…

Ralph Piper - Teaching the Waltz, 1953

This is a handout by caller Ralph Piper for use at a class during the American Squares week at Camp Ihduhapi, MN, in 1953. He provides a brief description of different styles of waltz, then outlines in detail the steps he suggests using to teach the waltz.

Brussels World's Fair - 1958

This article describes the square dance presence at the 1958 World's Fair in Brussels.

What's New in SD? (1955)

This 1955 article takes a brief look at some figures that were considered new at the time. Among them: Pass Through, Allemande Thar, Dopaso, Box the Gnat, Rollaway, and Throw in the Clutch.

A Square Dance Pioneer: Jimmy Clossin

This summary of an interview with Jimmy Clossin by Miriam Gray appeared in 1960. More than 50 years later, it is impressive the ways in which he anticipated the challenges facing the square dance movement. This excerpt provides a taste of Clossin's views:

"Mr. Clossin stated that recent activities in square dance have created confusion and have…

Square Dancing Standard and Experimental Guidelines

A flood of new calls in the early 1970s led a group called Square Dance Systems to publish a catalogue of calls, an attempt to bring order to an increasingly-complex universe of new figures. Square Dance Systems was Lester Keddy, Arthur Ballard, and John Hendron. This effort came before the establishment of CALLERLAB. In this item, we include the…

New Call Problems in the Mid 1970s

This is an excerpt from the book Step by Step Through Modern Square Dance History by Jim Mayo. It describes the situation that had been created by a flood of new calls in the mid 1970’s. Related items illustrate a set of early attempts by Square Dance Systems to create an organized catalogue of calls.

Red Bates, 2011 City of New Orleans

The 2011 singing call is the same one that he used in 2006, City of New Orleans, Rhythm record #182. The record, as Wade Driver called it, used a CALLERLAB Mainstream Program routine. As we noted in the 2006 clip, Red used three different routines. Both Red and I (Jim Mayo) were surprised to learn that here, five years later, he used the same three…

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Red Bates, 2011 - Patter

The 2011 patter call is probably from a group in Florida where Red now lives in the winter. Two things are notable. One is that he is using a much smaller vocabulary of calls than he has in the tips from earlier years. The other is that the music is a singing call record. (I Shall Not Be Moved". Quadrille # 910) Many callers who are comfortable…

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Red Bates, 2006 City Of New Orleans

The 2006 singing call, City of New Orleans, was probably to the Rhythm record #182 originally by Wade Driver with a Mainstream Program figure. By using three different figures in the dance rather than just one repeated four times, Red’s calling again shows the change in singing call delivery that by then was very common for many callers.

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Red Bates, 2006 Patter

The 2006 patter call shows Red’s usual programming using 11 of the PLUS Program calls in this one tip. The tempo had increased slightly to 123 bpm. His delivery style is conversational with somewhat less melodic variation than his early calling.

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Red Bates, 1990 From A Jack To A King

In the singing call Red uses the Introduction/Break/Closer as it was recorded on the Red Boot Star label #1320 by Bill Anderson and continues the practice, now very common among MWSD callers, of using four different routines for the figure. The tempo is still quite slow at 118 bpm.

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Red Bates, 1990 Patter

The 1990 dance was again for the Longmeadow club. The most striking thing to notice is the much slower tempo. In 1980 Red’s tempo for the opening patter call was 128 beats per minute (bpm). By 1990 he (and several others) had slowed the tempo considerably. In this tip the tempo is 116 bpm which is less, even, than he usually used at that time.

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Red Bates, 1982 Pecos Promenade

The singing call, Pecos Promenade, was recorded by Beryl Main on Chaparral label #406. At 120 beats per minute (bpm) it is the first indication in this collection of a trend toward slower tempo that was to become much more common. The singing call also shows a programming style that was becoming very common at that time. Red uses three different…

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Red Bates, 1982 Patter

The examples we have for the 1980’s also were recorded at the Longmeadow club and this was the opening patter call for a dance on February 16, 1982. The choreography is very different from his earlier dances. In the first minute and a half he uses 20 different calls! In the interval between 1973 and this dance, CALLERLAB had been formed and the…

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