Square Dance History Project: Contra dancers today see several hundred people at a gathering and think it's a large crowd; callers of modern western square dancing, on the other hand, can speak from experience of calling for 700 squares at a time. In 1950, the city of Santa Monica, CA, celebrated its Diamond Jubilee. Lloyd Shaw was invited to MC the world's largest square dance, a five hour event that included 15,200 dancers and an estimated 35,000 spectators. Indeed, millions of people were involved a generation ago in square dancing. This digital library and website, launched in 2012, contains nearly 1500 items. The collection focuses on moving images to document the historical antecedents and the many different regional styles of square dance throughout all parts of North America; in addition to videos online, SDHP has several hundred audio files (including many singing squares), photographs, samples of dozens of historic square dance magazines and festival programs, and text. One other feature is a series of interviews with callers and dance historians.
Barn Dance!: With colleagues in California and Virginia, we're creating the pilot of a show we hope to market to a national television network. We want to show people enjoying different forms of social dance in historic settings around the country. We have high-definition footage of contras from the Peterborough, NH Snow Ball; contras and squares from Ralph Sweet's Shindig in the Barn in CT, and modern square dance at a historic site in California. Stay tuned!
Contra Dance Diaspora: This is a large collection of personal stories and group histories focusing on the national spread of contra dancing as an activity. Currently it is more than 400,000 words, or nearly 800 single-spaced pages, a file that puts in organized fashion information about contra dance history from all parts of the country. The archive is particularly strong with contributions from "Dudley dancers;" these young folks in the late 1960s and early 1970s took the living New England contra dance tradition that they had learned from Dudley Laufman and spread it to far corners of the United States. If you'd like to contribute your own story or a history of your local dance group, please get in touch. Read more.