I researched these questions by using old copies of the New England Square Dance Caller magazine. This monthly magazine was the main regional magazine for Modern Western Square Dancing in New England. Callers and clubs would usually have an ad listing their schedules and the magazine also published "club news".
The Square Dance Foundation of New England has a complete set of this magazine so I spent an afternoon looking through back issues for any mention of Tex Wilson, Dennis Marsh, or Tech Squares.
Don Beck did the calling for what would become Tech Squares starting in 1967. Veronica McClure moved to Boston in late 1967 and, along with MIT undergraduate Charles Hatvany, started organizing the dance group into a student organization. The first caller was Tex Wilson, a person I never met. I wanted to know more about him so I started searching the magazine for his ad.
New England Square Dance Caller, February 1967, page 18
Tex seems established in this area at this time. The Boston YMCA Club says "(open)" which means that beginners were always welcome.
New England Square Dance Caller, June 1968, page 29
New England Square Dance Caller, October 1968, page 12
Finally we get to see a picture of Tex. Also note that this is the first time he mentions MIT in an ad. He calls "class" every Tuesday and there is a special "Get your Ph.D. at MIT" dance on Saturday.
New England Square Dance Caller, February 1969, page 12
Here is the ad for the Ph.D. in square dancing. It would take more research to determine if this started the "Ph.D. craze". Before the Mainstream and Plus dance programs were created, dancers would often take lessons and then attend a Ph.D. course, perhaps over the summer, to get them really good with the calls.
I wonder what this dance was all about. Perhaps just some light-hearted fun to try to attract dancers to Tech.
The magazine also published club news. Here is the first club news, probably submitted by Veronica. The club now has a name. We also see that we are changing from an "open" format to alternating open (beginners welcome) and closed (club-level).
New England Square Dance Caller, February 1969, page 48
Because of publication deadlines, Veronica most likely couldn't write up the big February event in time for the March issue. For the rest of 1969 she mostly gets news in every month. Apparently she was into the Grand March, even back then. "Portland '69" would be the New England Square & Round Dance Convention, held in April in Portland, Maine.
New England Square Dance Caller, April 1969, page 40
New England Square Dance Caller, May 1969, page 35
New England Square Dance Caller, June 1969, page 25
We hadn't placed an ad since our first big one back in February. Here is some club news along with an ad. The magazine appreciates the ad revenue. This is the first mention of round dancing at Tech.
New England Square Dance Caller, July 1969, page 28
Another ad in August with slightly different information but no news.
New England Square Dance Caller, August 1969, page 10
Tex's ad in September shows him to be busy, including calling for Tech every Tuesday.
New England Square Dance Caller, September 1969, page 12
The news indicates that the summer was a little shaky, perhaps for both square and rounds. However, the round dance class will graduate in August. We are also planning a big Saturday night dance in Sala for October.
New England Square Dance Caller, September 1969, page 14
While doing this research I took a note at this point which says "July 9, 1969: OK to square and folk dance on Sunday in Massachusetts." I assume this is when the Massachusetts Blue Laws were updated to allow this. I assume this was in the September, 1969 issue of the magazine but I didn't capture an image of it.
This month we have an ad for the October dance along with club news. The theme of "closing the generation gap" implies that our dancers were probably a bit younger than the average square dancer, even in 1969. Also of note is the first mention of Krash Kourse—7 weeks long.
New England Square Dance Caller, October 1969, page 14
New England Square Dance Caller, December 1969, page 23
It is now 1970 and the club notes this month are written by Barry Jacobson.
New England Square Dance Caller, February 1970, page 14
Dennis Marsh will eventually become our caller. Here is one of his ads.
New England Square Dance Caller, April 1970, page 12
Tex continues to have occasional ads. This one didn't list his schedule.
New England Square Dance Caller, April 1970, page 17
Club news is sparse in 1970.
New England Square Dance Caller, September 1970, page 12
Club ads are sparse in 1970. Tex is still calling.
New England Square Dance Caller, December 1970, page 14
One last ad as we roll into 1971.
New England Square Dance Caller, February 1971, page 30
What I have learned from this research is is that it takes real dedication and attention to detail to have a continuous series of ads or articles in a magazine like this. Tex only had occasional ads and not all of them contained his schedule. Tech mainly had ads when it wanted to announce a big dance. The club news only happened when someone made it happen.
Another thing that is clear is that Tech's early vision was to be welcoming to everyone. If you didn't know how to dance, the club would teach you. If you did know how to dance, you were encouraged to come have fun with us. The club was also interested in visiting outside clubs, exchanging banners, and attending the convention in April.
1969 was an exciting time in the club's history. Tech had a name, was coming out to the larger square dance public, and was juggling how to welcome newcomers and still do some club dancing. This was also the year the club started round dance lessons.
Veronica worked hard on behalf of Tech getting it started in 1968 and nurturing it throughout 1969. You can find out more about the early days of Tech Squares in an interview with Veronica available here. See also the Wikipedia article available here.
Revised: $Date: 2008/10/28 03:27:15 $