Sunday, August 31, 2014

History of Clog Dancing in North Carolina in 1950s and 1960s.

I recently came across a video of the Echo Inn Cloggers featured on the Jimmy Dean TV show in the 1950s. This team was a national champion team from Hendersonville, NC. Their step was freestyle, but at the end of the second routine, they lined up and did a flapjack in unison.

What struck me is the similarity to how Kay Wilkins introduced precision clogging to the square dance world at the National Championships in Slade, Kentucky in 1948. According to what she told me when I visited her in her home at Plumtree, NC, at that time she had recently started the smooth dance and clogging team programs at Cranberry School, which was consolidated to form Avery County High School in the mid 1960s. She took the dancers to Kentucky for the competition and stunned the square dance world by lining up and doing a precision step at the end. Since the flapjack was very popular in Avery County, I imagine that they did the flapjack, probably very similar to what we see in the second routine by the Echo Inn Cloggers.

In 1964 the Blue Ridge Mountain Dancers of Hendersonville were filmed by David Hoffman of New York in the home of Bascom Lamar Lunsford. This celebrated historic archive has been viewed over a million times on YouTube.

By this time, the step was being styled with a syncopation and strong down and back movement that distinguishes clogging from the buck step. Clogging was very popular in Hendersonville during that era.