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"Wild Bill" Reagan

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"Wild Bill" Reagan


Duane "Wild Bill" Reagan was a square dance caller perhaps best known for his performance at the Expo 74 festival in Spokane, Washington. Featured here are two clips of his calling at that event, a live recording made by musician Pop Wagner:

* Cheat or Swing
* Docey Out as She Comes in

(Note: Audio clips will take a while to load. They will appear below the PDF files.)

Reagan started dancing as a high school student in Denver, and travelled with his school team, the Rebel Rangers, to perform in Washington, DC, on the Senate floor. Born in 1919, he was strongly influenced by Lloyd Shaw. He called for a few dances after WWII, but had stopped calling around 1948. Penn Fix reports that at Expo 74 the Gypsy Gyppo String Band was playing on stage with the audience standing around tapping their feet. Reagan went on stage, told the band that he could call some dances, and started cajoling the crowd into squares, drawing on the old material he remembered from his early days as a caller. Festival organizers were so pleased that he and the band were invited to play and lead dances for the rest of the summer.

Penn adds, "I launched the first series of dancing in Spokane in the spring of 1980.  We had a dance every two weeks, alternating between Bob Childs and a local band called Irish Jubilee and Wild Bill calling squares with another local old time band." Additional information about him is in Penn Fix's book, Contra Dancing in the Pacific Northwest.

In addition to the two audio clips, we have gathered here biographical information about Reagan, photographs supplied by his widow, Pat, and two of his written reminiscences.

South Denver High School, Rebel Ranger, mid-1930s
Yahota Air Force Base, Japan, 1953-54
Washington state, 1980s (two color pictures)

Many younger dancers nationwide became familiar with Reagan's repertoire when it was taken around the country by Seattle caller Sandy Bradley in the late 1970s and early 1980s; Sandy met Reagan when she was playing in the Gypsy Gyppos band that accompanied him in Spokane:

Jerry Mitchell—mandolin
Sandy Bradley—guitar
* Warren Argo—banjo
Jimmy Borsdorf and Jack Link—fiddle

*Argo mentioned Wild Bill's influence in an article he wrote about the development of square and contra dance.

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Item Relations

This Item is related to Item: Traditional Western Square Dances 4 - Docey Out as She Comes In
This Item is related to Item: Sandy Bradley 1 - Getting started
This Item is related to Item: Cheat or Swing (clip) - Sandy Bradley