Sadie Hawkins dance

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In the United States, the Sadie Hawkins Dance is usually a less formal dance sponsored by a high school, middle school or college, in which female students invite and pay for male students.[1] This is contrary to the custom of male students inviting females to school dances and paying for dinner such as Prom in the spring and Homecoming in the fall.


The Sadie Hawkins dance is named after the Li'l Abner comic strip character Sadie Hawkins, created by cartoonist Al Capp.[1] In the strip, Sadie Hawkins Day fell on a given day in November (Capp never specified an exact date). The unmarried women of Dogpatch got to chase the bachelors and "marry up" with the ones they caught.[1] The event was introduced in a daily strip which ran on November 15, 1937.

In the U.S. and Canada, this concept was popularized by establishing dance events to which the woman invited a man of her choosing, instead of demurely waiting for a man to ask her. The first known such event was held on November 9, 1938. Within a year, hundreds of similar events followed suit. By 1952, the event was reportedly celebrated at 40,000 known venues. It became a woman-empowering rite at high schools and college campuses, and the tradition continues in some regional American cultures.

Alternative names[edit]

Other names are used regionally:

  • TWIRP, which stands for The Woman Is Required (or Requested) to Pay[1]
  • W.P.A. (Women Pay All)[1]
  • Morps or MORPs, which is Prom spelled backwards (Western U.S.)
  • Vice Dances or Vice-Versa Dances referring to the usual custom of males inviting females
  • Turnabout (Chicago, IL)
  • Ladies Choice Dance (San Antonio, TX)
  • "Tolos" (Pacific Northwest) The word comes from the University of Washington's Mortar Board, which began as an all-women's honor society called the "Tolo Club," from the Chinook word for success and achievement. To raise funds, the group held a dance where women asked men[2]
  • Sponge Dance (Dearborn, Michigan)
  • Deer Hunt (Ogden, Utah)
  • King Bruin (Vestal, New York)

Similar dances, sometimes called Spinsters' Balls, have been organized for adults. The custom of holding Spinsters' Balls has spread outside the U.S., and exists in countries such as Australia. If held during the winter months, the Sadie Hawkins dance may be called the Snow Ball or some other wintry name. In a variation on pure Sadie Hawkins custom, a particular song may be designated a snowball dance by the DJ or master of ceremonies.

In that case, also known as "speed dancing" (because of its similarities to speed dating), the DJ picks two people to start dancing, usually to a slow dance. Periodically the DJ will shout, "snowball," signaling that the dancers must find new partners, thus increasing the number of partners on the floor. Half of the people asking new dancers to come to the floor will be girls asking boys, Sadie Hawkins-style. By the end of the song, most of the people at the dance are on the dance floor. The "snowball dance" is typically used to get the dancing started, as school dances can be notoriously slow to start. In some areas, people chosen to dance cannot refuse, thereby ensuring people get onto the dance floor, and thus the "snowball" gains momentum and grows.

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