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Music for square dance, Skyline Farms, Alabama, 1937.
Playing some square dancing music at Skyline Farms, Alabama in 1937

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Square dance calling to "Chicken Reel" 1939

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Square Dancing
The caller--someone who calls out the dance steps in time to the music--was a completely American invention. At first dancers memorized all the steps for a particular dance, but eventually the dances became so complicated that it was necessary to have someone yell out cues so that dancers didn't have to remember so many steps. The caller didn't just call out "do-se-do your partner"; a good caller also came up with colorful sayings or witty lines that he would say in between the cues such as "Don't be bashful and don't be afraid. Swing on the corner in a waltz promenade." A caller might also come up with new dance steps and routines.
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CREDIT: Shahn, Ben, photographer. "Music for square dance, Skyline Farms, Alabama." 1937. America from the Great Depression to World War II: Photographs from the FSA and OWI, ca. 1935-1945, Library of Congress.
AUDIO CREDIT: Harp, Walter, square dance calling. 'Square dance calling accompanying "Chicken reel".' Recorded by Sidney Robertson Cowell March 10, 1939. California Gold: Northern California Folk Music, Thirties, Library of Congress.