Early Western Square Dancing

The Development of Cowboy or Western Square Dancing.  After graduating from Colorado College, marrying iand n 1913 Lloyd and Mary Shaw went on to teach school at Colorado Springs High School. Lloyd Shaw, also known as “Pappy,” later served as superintendent for the Broadmoor District’s Cheynne Mountain School outside Colorado Springs. He developed a number of outdoor programs and initiated a program of dramatics and traditional Europen and American folk dancing.

He got hold of Ford and Lovett’s book published in 1926 called “Good Morning” and used it as a start of his continued interest in square and round dancing.  He also used it to expand his school folk dancing program. He soon realized that it did not thoroughly address how square and round dancing had changed with western migration amd settlement.

In 1939 he published his own book called “Cowboy Dances.” The book was based on what he called western square dancing and incorporated all the information he gathered from all the cowboys, old-timers and western towns and farm, communities and various dance manuals he collected. This book was released with “Cowboy Tunes” in 1939 and followed later by “The Round Dance Book” in 1948.

When he introduced one or two of the western cowboy dances to his students, the free and easy lustiness appealed to them. He and his wife took their teenage dance team, the Cheyenne Mountain Dancers, to folk dance festivals and for exhibition dances around the country. They were a huge hit. The group appeared in more than 50 major American cities and numerous universities.

Shaw began to see that cowboy or western square dances possessed social potentialities far beyond student education and recreation. Square dancing was more democractic on the dance floor than traditional couples ballroom dancing. In square dancing, couples remain in their on set (square), but repeatedly exchange partners throughout the dance and mingle with all couples on the floor.

Square dancing promoted humor and laughter. It was difficult to drink and still manage spins and whirls of square dancing, so alcohol consumption was generally minimal to nonexistent. Square dancing also offered a great family activity.

He conducted classes training classes for new and existing leaders and callers in Colorado Springs. After Pappy and Mary built their Pikes Peak retreat called Coombie Corrie, they held summer classes there. He published other articles and produced several recordings of square dance musice and dances.