It’s a pretty common occurrence to find pictures like this of Sadie Hawkins Dances in my 1940s-1950s yearbooks. Tattered clothing, corn cob pipes, and overalls with only one arm on the shoulder were de rigueur. Guests often posed on haystacks such as those above.
The Sadie Hawkins dance is named after the Li’l Abner homely comic strip character Sadie Hawkins, created by cartoonist Al Capp. In the strip, the unmarried women of Dogpatch, a hillbilly mountain village, got to chase the bachelors and “marry up” with the ones they caught. The event was introduced in the daily strip, which ran on November 15, 1937.
Consequently, Sadie Hawkins dances are traditionally held in November, with the first official one being held on November 9, 1938. Within a year, hundreds of schools followed suit. By 1952, the event was reportedly celebrated at 40,000 known venues. If nothing else, it empowered women to do the asking–and perhaps face rejection.
In the comic, the voluptuous Daisy Mae has the hots for the dense and simple-minded 6’3″ Abner, hardly “l’il” at all.
Participants at the dances often wore tattered clothing or plaid shirts.
What about you? Did you ever attend a Sadie Hawkins Dance? Did people dress up like the L’il Abner characters, or was it purely a girls-ask-boys affair?