There were few things that Americans of the
19th century liked better than dancing. Pioneers, soldiers, farmers,
politicians, ministers and indeed all sorts of people wrote in diaries,
letters and published articles regarding attending dances. Of course good
dancing is a very joyful experience. As our forbears realized, dancing
positively engages the mind, exercises the body and has a wonderful tonic
effect on the soul. But there was much more than just the pleasure of
dancing to attract participants. With no radio or CDs available, dances were
an opportunity to hear and enjoy music. With no telephones or email
available dances provided an opportunity to socialize, communicate and share
news with others. With high cultural expectations of behavior, dances were
especially an opportunity to polish one’s manners and develop the social
skills expected of those in "decent company".
While the formal “Grand Ball” may have been
the height of the 19th century dance experience, people from throughout the
social spectrum also enjoyed dancing in less elegant settings and less
On prairies and plantations, in parlors and presidios, rural Americans of
all sections and classes enjoyed any opportunity to do some lively stepping.
From Atlantic to Pacific and The Great Lakes to the Gulf Coast, they reeled
and promenaded at soirees, shivarees, stomps, hoe-downs, corn-huskings,
fandangos, harvest balls, barn dances, county fairs, birthday parties,
wedding receptions, patriotic gatherings and church socials to tunes like
“Soldier’s Joy”, “Jefferson & Liberty”, “Bonaparte Crossing The Rhine”
"Cotton Eyed Joe".
Often no more than a single experienced fiddler was required but a good 3 or
4 piece string band could draw folks in from miles around. Some came on foot
or straddling the back of a mule while others pranced on racehorses, rolled
up in carriages or arrived perched in fashionable buggies. Some wore their
homespun “Sunday best” while others wore silken “store bought” goods. Some
came from busy, growing towns while others traveled from distant frontier
It may have been a New England Church Social,
an Appalachian Wedding, a Carolina Soiree, a Kentucky Hoe-Down, a Nebraska
Corn Huskin' Party, a Texas Fandango, a Prairie Harvest Dance or a Louisiana
It might even have been a Tucson Barn Dance!
But wherever it was or whatever it might have
been called - one could be sure of warm smiles, friendly faces, a well-tuned
fiddle and some fine lively dancing!
Fashion, Music & Dance: Our focus is Rural America of the 19th
Century ... and our music and dance will reflect that. But modern western
folks of the 21st century are welcome too. Whether "Old Country" or "New
Country" come and have a good time!
Coffee at the Ranch
The We Make History Family enjoyed good ol'
Western style fellowship at one of our favourite spots for
lunch, coffee & cool, refreshing Quench - AJ's Fine Foods in the La Encantada shopping center at
Campbell & Skyline.
See Photos from past Tucson Barn
Dear Col. and Mrs. Scott,
Many thanks to you indeed for hosting the Tucson Barn Dance. My family
and I enjoyed everything to the utmost. The music was superb, the
company grand, the dancing delightful. We loved dressing in historical
style and finding others who enjoy the same. This kind of activity is
something our country really needs. Thank you for all the work you do.
Your friends in Christ,
Jorge and Sue R. and Daughters
Please also see our “Etiquette
& Expectations” page as well as our "All
About Us" page.
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