Juvenile Delinquency and Square Dancing

Title

Juvenile Delinquency and Square Dancing

Subject

General - Dance and Culture; Northeast - general

Description

In this article, published in Northern Junket in 1959, caller Ed Durlacher describes his experiences leading square dances in Riverside Park, New York City. It was not a promising beginning:

"As they came out on the floor I knew that I had never seen a worse looking group in my life. The adults were fair' the youth an unholy sight. Young men in dirty T-shirts, undershirts or no shirts. Trousers that had not been cleaned or pressed since bought. Girls in form-fitting sweaters, off (way off) the shoulder blouses. Short shorts, or rather, short, short, SHORT, shorts, pedal pushers that had to be wet to get into them, or dirty slacks. Regardless of age, cigarettes were dangling from most of their mouths. The moment they took hands there followed a pulling and yanking that must have caused many a strained tendon. Also more noise than you would hear in a boiler factory."

Durlacher persevered over several seasons, and ended up feeling that the dances were an effective way to combat juvenile delinquency:

"This area is considered to be bad with a capital "B". Yet they were willing to follow leadership that activated them. They found that if they, after the first season, violated rules they would be expelled from the floor and that the others would applaud the action. Quite often after their expulsion, they would come to the stand to apologize, and ask to be allowed to go back and dance. If they were told that they were out for that night, they would say that they would be back on the following Friday. They came back, and ALWAYS came up to the stand to be seen. At the end of the third season the Police told me that there was less trouble in this neighborhood than in any around the area."

He mentions that two hundred of the young dancers showed up at one of his Central Park dances and conducted themselves appropriately.

Creator

Ed Durlacher

Source

Northern Junket, Volume 6, Number 11,

Date Created

December 1959

Contributor

Tony Parkes

Spatial Coverage

USA, New York, New York City

Temporal Coverage

1950s

Item Relations

This Item is related to Item: Ed Durlacher - Central Park newsreel