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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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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.

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…

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…

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.

Vermont Country Dance Festival - 1953

Program from a 1953 Vermont dance festival, whose avowqed purpose was "To strengthen Vermont's heritage of square and contra dances and to bring together country dance enthusiasts from every section of the state for a wonderful time." The program, which was sponsored by the State Recreation Office. As years went by, the event was attended by huge…

Evolution of Square Dance, 1940–1960

At the 2008 National Square Dance Convention, Colorado dancer, caller and historian Calvin Campbell presented a program on twenty important years in the change from traditional to modern square dance. This video excerpt from a 75 minute presentation includes danced examples, with commentary, of these items: Sally Goodin Lloyd Shaw tip Dip and Dive…

Brussels World's Fair - 1958

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

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.

Big Circle square dance - Glenn Bannerman

Glenn Bannerman, caller, leads a big circle at MerleFest, 2014

Contra Corners Canon

The dance was composed by Pittsburgh caller and choreographer Ron Buchanan. In this video, it's being called by Lisa Greenleaf.

Vermont square dance festival - children

These are photographs of school groups participating in the big square dance festivals held in Vermont in the 1950s in Northfield and Montpelier.

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:…

I Only Want a Buddy - Herbie Gaudreau

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

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…

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…

Do-Si-Do and Face the Sides - Ted Sannella

Ted Sannella calls his dance, Do-Si-Do and Face the Sides, in a live recording from c. 1958. In Balance and Swing, Ted explains, "I wrote this dance in February, 1953 for a dance exhibition at the 1953 New England Folk Festival. It shows off very nicely the circles, lines and stars so typical of square dancing." More than 60 years after its…

Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight - Ted Sannella

Ted Sannella rarely called singing squares, but in this example of Hot Town in the Old Town Tonight, he mixes patter with a little big of singing to create a hybrid of singing and patter.The SDHP site contains many other examples of Ted Sannella's calling.

Silver and Gold - Ted Sannella

Ted Sannella wrote this dance in 1952, specifically to accompany the tune of the same name. In Balance and Swing, Ted writes, "This simple dance is a favorite of mine, one that I use with any group that is able to do a right and left through. Sometimes I use it as a teaching aid after explaing that figure to beginners. This works out well because…

Cape Breton - Inverness Set

Cape Breton square dance: this is the Inverness set, recorded in Brook Village, Nova Scotia. The video contains three figures.