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Items from "Traditional western": 101

Tait's Orchestra with Bud Udick

Cactus Tait’s Orchestra, taken at the Broadmoor hotel ballroom.. From left to right:
piano, Mrs. Ethel Tait
caller, Col. Earl “Bud” W. Udick (1/11/1916 – 9/5/1979)
fiddle, Thornton B. “Cactus” Tait (1909-1976)
clarinet, Grant Sinton (1894-1974)
banjo, Ben Chichester (1897- 1964)

Blue Bonnet Set - 1939

This 1939 newspaper pictoral spread looks at Herb Greggerson's Blue Bonnet Set, the team that won the Texas square dancing championship in March that year. Before that, the prize was often taken by Bob Sumrall's Abilene Set.

The introductory text reads: "This series of pictures might well be entitled "How to Square Dance in Seven Easy Lessons,"…

Texas Square Dance Contests

These are a series of newspaper clippings made by J. Olcutt Sanders, documenting Texas square dance competitions. (Unfortunately, most of them are undated.) We assume that these are from Fort Worth; the articles refer to the Southwest Exposition and Fat Stock Show, an annual event that is still ongoing in Fort Worth, now called the Fort Worth Stock…

Bob Sumrall - Olcutt Sanders correspondence, 1939

These letters between Bob Sumrall and J. Olcutt Sanders provide a glimpse into Texas square dances in the late 1930s. Sanders was a serious student of square dance history, part of a group of enthusiasts in the Austin area and later one of the editors of Foot 'n' Fiddle magazine. Born in Fort Worth in 1917, he graduated graduated from the…

Three Ladies Chain - Rickey Holden

Instead of the women chaining over and back within their own square, in this variation of Three Ladies Chain, caller Rickey Holden has the women leaving their square and chaining all the way over the hall and back again. The basic dance figure can be found in disparate traditional settings, ranging from a singing square set to Red River Valley or…

Old Square Dances of America

In his Square Dances of West Texas booklet and elsewhere, Rickey Holden makes frequent references to Iowa as a source of western dancing: --- There are, not counting the Southern Mountain clogging of the Ozarks, only two square dance styles traditional to the West of North America. • There is the IaCoCa (IowA-ColoradO-CaliforniA) or CoCa…

1940 Texas Square Dance Contest

Newspaper accounts of a square dance competition won by Bob Sumrall's Abilene set. The story goes into detail about each of the six competing teams,naming each of the dancers, the judges, and the organizers, and describing clothing, figures performed, and tunes used in the competition. An accompanying column (p. 3 of the PDF) reveals that paid…

"The Texas Cattle Country and Cowboy Square Dance" – Olcutt Sanders

This article, scholarly yet accessible, provides an excellent look at square dancing in west Texas in the late 1800s. He starts with a look at the conditions that set this region apart from others:"The West Texas cattle country as distinct from the East Texas cotton culture and the northern Great Plains, however, is a clear sub-region. ... It is my…

Square Dances of the Southwest

This 1951 booklet, by caller Butch Nelson, is a useful collection of calls from that region. You can hear Nelson calling Oklahoma Cyclone here.The Related Items provide audio or video clips, called by other callers, of some of the dances mentioned in Nelson's book. Note: you'll find many variations, so don't expect to see each dance exactly as he…

Saturday Night Square Dance - Jim Boyd, 1949

"Saturday Night Square Dance" was released in 1949 as a Soundie; the footage included here is all that we have been able to locate. (We would appreciate information from anyone having a complete copy of the film.)

Featured here are Jim Boyd and His Men of the West. Jom Boyd was the brother of Bill Boyd, well known for western swing music, and…

West Texas Square Dances - Index

This is the cover and index of the booklet published by Jimmy Clossin and Carl Hertzog, showing dances that were common to that region around 1950. The book offers a dictionary, "Around-the-Ring Dances," quadrilles, and "Callers Chatter."

The title page announces that this is "A Revised and Enlarged Edition of "Honor Your Partner" The Original…

Lines About Squares - Western Square Dancing

In this article, part of his long-running column, the author looks at the typical programs of Western square dancing in the late 1940s and early 1950s. He discusses the different kinds of patter, mentioned the predominance of singing calls at this time, and looks in depth at Rickey Holden's "Star By the Right."

The Girl I Left Behind Me (clip) - Lee Bedford, Jr.

In his brief look at the development of singing calls, Tony Parkes cites the publication of this dance in 1928 as "the earliest description of a singing square I've found so far (in fairly shallow digging)." This SDHP website includes an 1893 reference, plus other early mentions of the dance.

Cowboy Loop (clip) - Lee Bedford, jr.

This dance was called by Mildred Blakey at the big 1950 Santa Monica dance.

Square Dances With Calls - Lee Bedford, Jr.

In 1949, Texas caller Lee Bedford released on Imperial Records a four-album set of recordings with music provided by The Big D Ranch Hands. The liner notes, written by Paul Erfer, start by noting, "The interpretation of the figures described follows the style of square dancing as dances in some parts of Texas."Each record had a patter call on the A…

Cowboys' Christmas Ball - Anson, Texas

Poem written in 1890 describing the Cowboys' Christmas Ball in Anson, Texas. For more information about the author, see this website on cowboy poetry. The Ball continues, following the original rules requiring women to wear skirts and men to check their hats and spurs. Chittenden's poem was set to music and included in John Lomax's Cowboy Songs and…

Texas Cowboys - dance poems and lore

A collection of pieces related to square dance in southwest cowboy culture, published in 1925