Category Archives: Style

Spade Cooley Square Dance Music

Spade Cooley was a famous musician and actor in the 1940s to 1950s. His career was prematurely ended when he was convicted for the murder of his wife in 1961. He died while on a 72-hour furlough from prison in 1969.


This is a little box set of Spade Cooley 45 RPM square dance records without calls. The records were in great shape. Strange green color translucent vinyl. Tunes included Ida Red, To The Barn, Flop Eared Mule, Waggoner, Wake Up Suzie and Eighth of January. If you don’t know Spade Cooley you could sum up his music by saying he’s the Spike Jones of Western Swing music.

Listen to the album on Soundcloud:

Documentary: Bill Martin Square Dancing

Bill Martin talks about his definition of square dancing. To quote him, “It’s all square dancing!”

Portland’s vibrant music and dance scene is taking a big step back in time. Old time fiddle music and square dancing are surging in popularity with young people throughout the Northwest. Do-Si-Do with Bill Martin, veteran caller and mentor to a new generation of square dancers. Follow Bill as he leads Caroline Oakley through the beginning moves of becoming a caller.

Book: Let’s Create Old Tyme Square Dancing by Ralph Sweet

Let’s Create Old Tyme Square Dancing is a book by Ralph Sweet on the idea of bringing back traditional square dancing. It was written in 1966. Sweet felt that modern square dancing was experiencing a decline that could be remedied with the re-introduction of “Old Tyme” square dancing. This traditional form would be promoted along with the more modern forms of square dancing in order to let square dancing appeal to a larger number of people. This book provides fascinating insight into the history of square dancing.

Documentary: Northwest Stories: The Seattle Subversive Square Dance Society

From the video description.

For the past few years, the Seattle Subversive Square Dance Society has been working steadily and enthusiastically behind the scenes to re-introduce the joyful activity of square dancing to Seattle. Social and partner dances (waltz, swing, Cajun, etc.) are hugely popular in the Pacific Northwest—we really are a dancing group of folks! But in the 1980s, square dancing’s popularity was replaced in large part by contra dance, brought in from the Northeastern United States. Now this renegade bunch of old-time musicians and callers has organized old-fashioned house parties where you roll up the rugs and clear out the furniture as well as twice-monthly dances at the Tractor Tavern. You know how to do-si-do, don’t you?

This videos is part of Northwest Stories, a year-long project of Northwest Folklife to capture the spirit of communities in the region that participate in the annual Northwest Folklife Festival. The project is supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.