History of SDCANC

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The Square Dance Callers’ Association of Northern California (SDCANC) was formed February 20, 1949, with 14 charter members. Its initial stated goals were:

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  1. To foster & encourage American Square and Round Dancing.
  2. To encourage use of live callers & music for Square Dancing.
  3. To standardize definitions of calls and terms.
  4. To provide a directory of callers.
  5. To exchange calls & ideas.
  6. To develop new callers.
  7. To provide members an information service covering music, equip. & facilities.
  8. To devise & publish a code of ethics for callers, to which all members of the Association must subscribe.

Membership in the Association grew rapidly – some of our past rosters show well over 100 members, making it difficult to hold meetings of the entire membership. To alleviate this, chapters were formed in outlying areas such as (initially) Monterey Bay, Stockton and Santa Rosa. Over the years, some of these chapters became separate Associations in their own right.

Jack McKay’s statementConcerns arose that the Association was intended to be a union of callers and a commercial enterprise. President Jack McKay wrote publicly in October of 1950 to curb those concerns, saying that “(1) The association is NOT a closed group. It is open to all of those who are genuinely interested in teaching, or calling squares to groups, for pleasure, or for business, or both. (2) The Callers’ Association is NOT a union. We have no set fees, no minimum or maximum charges for calling. Fees, if any, are determined by the individual callers.” He further stated that callers were not paid for participating in Assocation “jamborees,” and that admission charges were used to pay for live musicians, hall rental, and other “simple expenses.” (See picture at left.)

Our scrapbooks show programs from frequent Association “jamborees” through the 1950s and 1960s with live music and up to 15 callers participating. The Association also held weekend “institutes” (what we today would call “seminars”) with instruction by well-known traveling callers of the day.

The scrapbooks also show a history of working together with the Northern California Square Dancers’ Association (NCSDA), with frequent participation by SDCANC members in the annual NCSDA Anniversary celebration and the Golden State Roundup.

While SDCANC membership began to fall off in the 1980s, we still have over 20 members on the roster, including some newer callers still learning their craft. We remain open to anyone who calls or is interested in calling, and our members stand ready to assist anyone who is so interested.

Most of the pictures below are thumbnails; you can see the full-size picture by clicking on the thumbnail. If you hover your mouse over the 1952 Executive Committee, you’ll see a key to the people in the picture.

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