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New-Fangled Dance Craze Hits Hollywood Bars Hard

Sherman Sanders was an actor who played a square dance caller in Hollywood movies starting in the early 1940s. His credits include Bowery Buckaroos, The Devil And Daniel Webster, Lure Of The Wilderness, Ride 'Em Cowboy, Roseanna McCoy, Star Spangled Rhythm, A Stolen Life, and The Andy Griffith Show. Described in the article as "Hollywood's No. 1…

"Square Dance in the 1950s Rural West: An Oral History"

Interviews with two older dancers in the author's family. One describes dancing in Garden Valley, Idaho, including stories of all-night dancing in the middle of the road in mid-winter, a literal "dance by the light of the moon" experience. The other subject, the author's father, describes his experiences as a dancer and caller in Modoc,…

Square Dance, Oakland, CA - 1919

This silent newsreel footage from Gaumont News, a French company, shows several sets of dancers doing a quadrille in an outdoor setting.

The brief title before the action reads:
"Choose Your Partners"
To the tune of "Johnny in the Low Ground" and "Turkey in the Straw," the Boys and Girls of '61 Dance the Steps of Their Youthful…

"The One Night Stand"

This short article from Sets in Order talks abotu the special challenges of events that are the first square dance experience for those gathered. It looks in particular at Margie and Ozzy Stout and their tips for success. They worked with large groups:"Agreeing to lead an evening's dance in the huge Long Beach Municipal Auditorium for the Annual…

Santa Monica 1950 - Don Ward comments

The Trad-Dance-Callers listserv in 2008 had a discussion that touched on the Santa Monica dance. Don Ward was a participant in that event and he shared a few memories with the group.

Santa Monica 1950 - interview with Bob Osgood

As part of his extensive series of interviews with notable figures in the square dance world, Bob Brundage conducted a lengthy interview with Bob Osgood. Included here is the part of that discussion that dealt with the Santa Monica event. (It has been slightly reformatted by inserting paragraph breaks to improve readibility.) Brundage's…

Santa Monica 1950 - interview with Dan Allen

"Calling All Folk Dancers" was a weekly radio show created by California caller Mildred Buhler. The next show after the Santa Monica dance included an interview with Dan Allen; this is a transcription of that portion of the show. It's valuable as a first-hand account from immediately after the event.

Santa Monica 1950 - Sets in Order

Bob Osgood was editor and publisher of Sets in Order; he was also one of the prime organizers of the Santa Monica event. Here is his magazine's story about the dance.

Santa Monica 1950 - Let's Dance

Cover story about the Santa Monica dance from Let's Dance magazine

Santa Monica 1950 - program

The program was announced ahead of time in Sets in Order magazine, and it's an excellent list of common dances and prominent callers of that era. At the dance itself, a round dance was inserted after every three squares.

Santa Monica 1950 - World's Largest Square Dance

At the time, it was the world's largest square dance event. Santa Monica, California, was celebrating its Diamond Jubilee in square dance style. Lloyd Shaw was invited to be the Grand Marshall of the the parade and he acted as MC for the dance, along with Bob Osgood, on July 13, 1950. Dancing lasted for four hours, and some 30,000 people watched as…

Let's Stop Hashing Our Squares

This essay, written more than 60 years ago, speaks to the longstanding tension between those who like predictable dance figures and those who seek continual variety. The author admits "that I am just as guilty as those I condemn. Perhaps in the past I have been, but after giving much thought to the matter, in the past year I have quite generally…

Contemporary Accounts of Dance From the American West in the Nineteenth Century

Doctoral dissertation based on primary sources; includes a look at dances on the pioneer trails, in logging camps in mining camps, rural social life and urban social life.

From the author's introduction:

===
This study originated with an attempt to establish evidence for a theory of how dance was an integral part of the growing society of…

Square Dance ~ Where?

A comprehensive, large (72 pp.) booklet describing square dance activities in northern California in the mid-1970s, attesting to the popularity of the activity at that time and place.

Desert Squares  (Southwest)

View full record for details.

Bob Ruff - Square Dancing Fundamentals, part 2

Also available elsewhere online.This is the second of two films created by caller Bob Ruff (Whittier, CA) to accompany his record, "The Fundamentals of Square Dancing, Level 1" that in turn is part of a square dance teaching series he created with Jack Murtha. In the film, Ruff teaches 35 basic square dance movements, working with a group of…

Bob Ruff - Square Dancing Fundamentals, Level 1

Also available elsewhere online: Caller Bob Ruff (Whittier, CA) created this video to accompany his record, "The Fundamentals of Square Dancing, Level 1" that in turn accompanies a square dance teaching series he created with Jack Murtha. Ruff teaches 35 basic square dance movements, working with a group of elementary school students who had been…

Mildred Buhler demonstration group

Contributor Paul Moore writes: "In the late 1940's through the early 50's there was a very popular caller in Northern California named Mildred Buhler. The film was Mildred calling to the demonstration group she had in NorCal. When her husband was transferred to London, Mildred took along her calling equipment and called there. She established the…

Square Dancing - Bob Osgood film, 1951

Film made by Bob Osgood / Sets in Order in 1951 to popularize square dancing. The accompanying flier was used to spur interest in rentals and sales.A discussion among square dance enthusiasts on the history of the film can be found here. As that discussion reveals, a copy of the film is available on DVD at a much higher resolution.