100 Years of Street Dances To Be Celebrated – Hendersonville
Event Expected to Draw Thousands to Historic Downtown Hendersonville
The rich traditional music and dance heritage of the Appalachian Mountains will be on full display in July. The 100th anniversary of Street Dances is held in the historic and picturesque mountain town of Hendersonville. Monday, July 9, from 7:00 to 9:30 p.m. at the Visitor Center at 201 South Main Street. Admission is free.
These mountain street dances started in 1918 to welcome soldiers home from World War I. Local history buffs claim the Hendersonville Street Dances are the oldest street dances in America, but they own up to the fact that while some communities may have started dances earlier, Hendersonville has the longest continuously running street dances.
Originally started by the local Chamber of Commerce, the event moved under the auspices of the HCTDA over a decade ago. Beth Carden, executive director of the HCTDA, says, “We really wanted to support the preservation of traditional music and dance. It’s such an important and vibrant part of our heritage, and the street dances are multigenerational. We have old-timers who grew up playing in bluegrass and mountain string bands who sing along and clap their hands. There are middle-aged folks who learned to clog as children who get up and dance right along with the featured clogging group. And we have children who come early for the 6:30 lesson in basic square dancing. It’s amazing to see locals and tourists alike enjoying mountain dance and music.”
Clogging, the state dance of North Carolina, was the social dance in the Appalachian Mountains as early as the 18th century. It developed when Irish, Scottish, English and Dutch settlers moved into the mountains and brought their folk dances with them. Over the years those cultural influences mingled with Native American and African American traditions, and a truly American form of the dance took root. Locals usually referred to it as mountain dancing until 1939 when Queen Elizabeth saw a group called the Soco Gap Cloggers perform at the White House and remarked that it reminded her of clogging, a dance style common in England. The media picked up the term and it stuck.
The July 9 event will open with brief remarks from city and county dignitaries, then move straight on to bluegrass music from Appalachian Fire, clogging demonstrations by Bailey Mountain Cloggers and square dancing called by Walt Puckett, who has been calling dances in Hendersonville for 50 years.
Appalachian Fire is a four-piece Hendersonville based band that has been performing since 2005. Their song selections range from contemporary and classic bluegrass songs and gospel standards. They play such favorites as: “Foggy Mountain Breakdown”, “Salt Creek”. “I’ll Fly Away”, and “Will the Circle Be Unbroken”.
The Bailey Mountain Cloggers are an award-winning team from Mars Hill University. The Bailey Mountain Cloggers have performed throughout the United States and internationally in Canada, Mexico, England, Scotland, Austria, and Ireland.
Street Dances will continue every Monday evening from the July 9 celebration of the 100th anniversary through August 13. For more information or a complete schedule of all the Street Dances and performers, go to www.visithendersonvillenc.org/street-dances. Or call the Henderson County Tourism Development Authority at 828-693-9708 or 800-828-4244.