Shakin' a Hoof (1951 article)
File: Shakin a Hoof.pdf
Tucson caller Fred Feild located this article in Arizona Highways magazine and shared it on the trad-dance-callers listserv. Fred added his own comments:
Advisory warning: This article contains bigoted statements against Native Americans, women, cows, cowboys, and probably inanimate objects, too. If you can tolerate the GOLs (Groan Out Loud) I'm sure you will also experience some LOLs. I post it because it answers Bob Brundage's interview question, "Where has the square dance been?" in a way most of us can't. It contrasts city with country like Ralph Page's writing could do. Beyond that, it contrasts nesters (a homesteader who takes open range land for a farm) with the lonely trail cowboy. Sorry if it offends.
The article itself it written in an over-the-top folksy style. Here's a sample:
"By the time the fiddler's warmed up the caller takes his place. He's an individual who feels as important as a pup with a new collar. When he steps into the room talk kinda stops an' ever'body backs ag'in the wall to make room for the dancin'. With leather lungs an' a loud mouth he can beller like a bull in a canebrake. But he's got a sense of rhythm an' 'nough personality to get the crowd into the spirit of the dance.
"As a rule he's a dude for dress, goin' in for fancy doodads like silver conchas, beaded vests, snake skins an' bright shirts. He calls from memory an' if he forgets the words he's good at puttin' in some patter of his own. He's more forward than the average an' has to be a leader to do a good job. Now, with his head reared back like a coffee-pot lid, he yells, "Choose yore podners, form a ring, Figger eight an' double L swing." The fiddler forgets his laziness an' becomes a mighty animated human. He beats time with his head, feet an' ever' part of his body at the same time. He's now doin' the work he loves, an' with the soul of an artist he's shore makin' that fiddle talk a language that puts ginger in yore feet. Music like that rouses a crowd to action an' even the ones not dancin' help beat time as the caller shouts:
"Ducks in the river, goin' to the ford, Coffee in a little rag, sugar in a gourd." Most of the boys are kinda timid at first. They've run in a straight steer herd so long they're shy as a green bronc to a new water trough. But the whinin' of the fiddle, the scrapin' an' stompin' of high-heeled boots, an' the shouts of the caller soon makes anybody forget he's skittish. And to this noise there's always some high-pitched cowboy yell that quickens the blood an' makes the fiddler bear down with more vigor."
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