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.

Visit the Square Dance History Project.