Square Dance Dress
Areta Meyer made this hot pink dress by hand so she could do-se-do with her square dance friends.
"We do not grow too old to dance. We grow old because we do not dance."—Herb Greggerson, square dance caller, 1953
Areta Meyer loved to square dance. Living in Lone Star, Kansas, Meyer and her husband were members of several Lawrence area square dance clubs in the 1950s and 60s. These clubs had names such as Merry Mixers, Bells & Bows, and Do-Sa-Do, and met Wednesday and Saturday evenings. Trips were planned to dance with clubs in Kansas City, Topeka, Salina, and Baldwin. Membership ranged from doctors to farmers and all were welcomed. According to Meyer, social interaction was the primary motivation, but physical exercise and keeping her dancer's figure were an added bonus.
Square dancing originated in New England and combined dances of various immigrant ethnic groups. A "caller" was required to direct transitions from one foreign dance to another. Square dancing requires four individuals to dance as a group and is related to the French and English Quadrille. Beginning in the 1930s, square dancing became a fad in American pop culture. By the 1960s, clubs could be found throughout the U.S. Callers became national celebrities as they toured the country promoting their albums.
In the 1950s and '60s, square dancing became more formal and costuming became an important element. Areta Meyer handmade this hot pink polyester square dance dress. The knee-length dress was worn with a black petticoat. According to Meyer, the extra volume gave the dancer added balance.
In 2002, Meyer's son Rex Powell donated a collection of her square dancing items to the Kansas Museum of History, including this dress and these record albums.
Entry: Square Dance Dress
Author: Kansas Historical Society
Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.
Date Created: January 2004
Date Modified: December 2014
The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.