Square Dance History


As settlers came into Georgia from Pennsylvania, Virginia, and the Carolinas they bought with them circle, line, and square dances which included the schottische, the minute and the Virginia Reel. Their form of square dance was 2-couple squares called Appalachian or Eastern Square Dance. This form was well established by 1850 and continued in both public halls and private homes will into the 1980’s.

Western (4 couples) Square Dancing was popularized nationally through the publication of “Cowboy Dances” by Lloyd “Pappy” Shaw and his exhibition and touring group from the Cheyenne Mountain School in the late 1930’s. Another of the early Western Square Dance Caller and Teacher was Ed Gilmore, who toured and taught dancers and callers in the late 1940’s. By the early 1950’s Western Square Dancing had established a number of calls and figures that continued to grow and change as more callers established Square Dance Clubs.

However, in Georgia Western Square Dance Clubs were established in the late 1940’s by callers such as Ruy Camp, Frank Scoggins, Jamie Newton, Jim Mayo, Pee Wee Meyer, and Larry Clack. As Western Square Dancing grew a number of callers favored different calls and wrote new calls and choreographed different dances and the calls of one caller may have been considerably different than that of another caller. The establishment of Callerlab in 1974 standardized the list of Square Dance Calls we know today.

As near as can be determined, a group of Appalachian Square Dancers in Jefferson, Georgia hired Larry Clack in 1958 to teach Western Square Dance resulting in the formation of Happy Squares as the first square dance club in Northeast Georgia.

Lakeshore Squares was formed in March 1964 as the third Square Dance Club in Northeast Georgia.  Lakeshore Squares, Happy Squares and Jefferson Squares were the founding members of the Northeast Georgia Federation. (NEGF)

Lamar McLendon was the first president of Lakeshore Squares and Frank Veal the caller.  Lakeshore Squares had 44 members: Shirley & Eugene Byrd, Margie & Charles Barron, Martha & David Harris, Martha & Carlton Lester, Margie & Lamar McLendon, Raynell & Charles Sims, Joyce & Cecil Smith, Mary & Robert Smith, Linda & Donald Stewart, Peggy & James (Tex) Webb, Joyce & Ed Hutson, Mr. & Mrs. W.J. Trunkey, Florene & Kenneth Hudgins, Evelyn & Felton McKenzie, Wana & Dewey Smith, Kathryn & Ted McCall, Berta & Tony (TJ) Still, Kathryn & Jack Hogsed, Carol & Kay Darrocott, Betty & Charles Overman, Mildred & Fred Hamphill, Polly & Marty Herron. Monthly membership dues were $1.50 per person.

In 1970, Lakeshore Squares was represented by at least two couples, Herbert and Marie Bruce and Bob and Paula Allen, at the Presidential Inauguration of Jimmy Carter.  They danced at the Inaugural Ball with about 120 other Georgia Square Dancers.

During the 1980’s and 1990’s, membership varied in the range of 50 to 75.  By the year 2000, the club had dwindled down to 23 members when Herbert and Marie Bruce were elected Presidents and vowed the club would not die.  Together with Theo and Linda Johnson, they begin an extensive publicity campaign, arranged the use of the YMCA facility for classes and convinced Rudy Saunders, our caller, to teach class for half of the Split-the-Pot at each lesson.  The primary successful recruitment technique was one-on-one contact with potential students.  The first class saw 120 students of which 80 became club members in 2001.  The Bruce’s remained presidents for two more years and saw 80 students and 60 members in 2002 and 60 students and 40 members in 2003, proving that a club can come back if its leadership and club members are willing to do the hard work.  The club’s largest membership was 126 dancers.  Lakeshore Squares remains one of the largest square dance clubs in NE Georgia today.  The club continues active class recruitment and square dancing today.