Sadie Hawkins Dance


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.

KU-Spring47019In the next photo, you can see that not much had changed as far as attire in the 25 years since its original inception and this 1964 Sadie Hawkins Dance.

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?

18 thoughts on “Sadie Hawkins Dance

      1. The spring dance was called a Tolo–not to be confused with Prom, the fall dance, replacing Sadie Hawkin’s day, where the girls asked the boys was in the fall and called the Olot, since it was considered backwards. I have no idea where it came from.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Oh I went to them. When I went there was no dress up. I seem to remember that there were two in a school year. Might be mistaken. Maybe the girls in my school were just assertive. In either event I thought they were pretty cool.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. We had no dress-up, but when Bob chases Alice who chases Dan who chases Linda who chases Bob, the Sadie Hawkins Dance puts a serious kink in the circle. You’re stalking one girl only to find out a different girl is stalking you.
        Took me a long time to realize that truth, and I married the one who was stalking me. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This event is just before my time in Kansas, but my older brother thought it was a hoot, something about slowing your run at the most special time?
    – It’s not a perfect resort motel, but a reasonable price evening hang out for us guys rock climbing several days in Red River Gorge Kentucky – Abner’s Motel, really close to Slade.

    Liked by 1 person

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