Sadie Hawkins dance

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In the United States and Canada, a Sadie Hawkins dance is a usually informal dance sponsored by a high school, middle school or college, to which the women invite the men.[1] This is contrary to the custom of the men typically inviting the women to school dances 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][2] 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 that they caught.[1] The event was introduced in a daily strip that ran on November 15, 1937. In 1939, Sadie Hawkins events were held at over 200 colleges, according to Life magazine.[3]

Similar dance events[edit]

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.

The Tolo Dance in the Pacific Northwest began several decades before Capp's comic strip. The word tolo 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.[4]

See also[edit]

  • Gender roles
  • Leap year, for traditions on women proposing marriage
  • Powder Puff, a football game pitting girls against girls
  • Winter Formal, a formal dance that may be had instead of Sadie Hawkins dances from January through March


  1. ^ a b c Lewis, Casey. "The History of Sadie Hawkins Dances". LiveAbout. Retrieved 27 January 2015.
  2. ^ "Sadie Hawkins Day". Li'l Abner. 13 February 2013. Retrieved 12 December 2018.
  3. ^ McComb, Mary C. (2006). Great Depression and the Middle Class: Experts, Collegiate Youth and Business Ideology, 1929-1941. Taylor & Francis. p. 106. ISBN 978-0-415-97970-2.
  4. ^ "Tolo Chapter History – University of Washington Mortar Board – Tolo Chapter".

External links[edit]