The Old Armory building was transformed back to the 1950s recently for a night of dancing. On October 12, 2018, guests to the Indiana County Historical Society were transported back to the 1950s for a Sock Hop. Special thanks to Crisp Entertainment for providing the music and giving swing dance lessons to all the dancers on the dance floor. A question many people may have is: what are Sock Hops? So, this week’s blog goes on to discuss the dance popular in the 1950s and the culture during the 1950s. School dances were popular during the 1950s, and those dances were held in the school gymnasium, and in order to protect the floor, story goes, that teenagers often danced in their socks, henceforth the name “sock hop.” Young people would flock to these dances either with a date or as a group, which was a major change in society.
Fashion in the 1950s was much different than it is today, girls often suited up in sweaters and swirling circle skirts, the best remembered is the poodle skirt. The first poodle skirt was made in 1947, and quickly became a must-have item. The garment was specifically marketed for teens. . Guys would commonly wear sport jeans and T-shirts, although looks varied across social roles ranging from “preppies” to “greasers.” Along with the poodle skirt were saddle shoes, these shoes were black and white shoes that looked like saddles and were worn by both men and women. Some famous saddle shoes in popular culture were Elvis Presley in Jailhouse Rock and Lucy van Pelt from the Peanuts comic strip also wears saddle shoes.
MUSIC AND DANCE
Music during the 1950s was a defining characteristic of the time; rock-and-roll had surged into mainstream music, and many young people were obsessed with the new sounds. This music included socks like Carl Perkins’ “Blue Suede Shoes” and Elvis Presley’s “Jailhouse Rock.” This embrace of a “new” style of music lead to “American Bandstand” hosted by Dick Clark with nationwide broadcast beginning in 1957.
New styles of dancing also occurred during this time including the hand jive, the stroll, and the box-step, but none captured the younger generation like the Twist. Although it came late in the game originating in 1959 in a Hank Ballard song, it did not fully come into the spotlight until 1960 when 17-year-old Chubby Checker released a recording of the infamous song. The song and dance were so popular that it was followed up with “Let’s Twist Again.”
The 1950s were a time of change in American Society not just with music and dance but also in culture. Teenagers parents were concerned, especially with the dance moves; Elvis Presley’s dancing was considered “dirty” and “too sexy” for television. But the teenagers of the day accepted it and the culture of the 1950s become a part of society.