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The Sadie Hawkins Dance

Past and Future
Sarah Miller
Two students at the Sadie Hawkins dance of March 1995

Have you ever heard your parents or grandparents talking about their high school days and all the traditions that have long since ended? Among the talk of Senior Bye Lines, Mock Weddings, and Winter Balls they may have mentioned the Sadie Hawkins Dance. The “Sadies” Dance, which was first introduced to Willow Glen High School in 1951 and stopped after 2014, was a beloved tradition for many students. But what made the popular Sadie Hawkins Dance disappear after all those years? Can and will it come back to Willow Glen?

Mr. Ostrowski, our Athletics Director, graduated from Willow Glen High School in 1992 and attended the Sadie Hawkins all four years he was here. Back then, the Sadies was held on a Friday in late February to early March. Mr. Ostrowski said, “It was in that dead period, because you have your Winter Ball in December, then you’d have your Sadie Hawkins in February, and your Prom in April or May, so it kind of divided everything up.” The Sadie Hawkins festivities would start with a rally in the gym during school with the dance later that night. 

The dance itself was loosely based on Sadie Hawkins Day, an event in the 1930s comic strip, Li’l Abner by Al Capp. In the comic, the Mayor of town’s daughter, Sadie Hawkin, couldn’t find a guy who would marry her. In response, her father organized a day in which she could find a husband. On this day if a woman “caught” a man during a footrace, he was required to marry her. Before Sadie Hawkins Day was the Sadie Hawkins Eve Dance, where the women of the town would step on men’s feet to slow them down for the race. 

In real life, the Sadie dance was about the typical gender roles being switched and not about stepping on people’s feet. Traditionally the girls would ask the guys out, plan the dinner beforehand, and pick out their outfits. The dates always wore matching outfits and it was casual to semi-formal, depending on what the girls wanted. Besides these parts, many aspects of the Sadies dance are similar to our Homecoming. There was a photobooth area to take pictures with your date, a theme the dance was based on, and a variety of music to dance to. Mr. Ostrowski said students looked forward to this dance similarly to Homecoming, “When I was a student here, it was kind of like the boys always had to ask the girls, so it was a girl’s one chance to ask who they want to go to the dance, so it was always a fun thing.” And so the question remains, why would something a lot of students look forward to stop happening? 

When asked why he thought it disappeared, Mr Ostrowski said, “I would hesitate to guess that in our current structure of society it is probably viewed as archaic and old fashioned. I think that roles that males and females now play in our society are more open and less traditional.” With the changing of times and normative things in the world, to most, the Sadie Hawkins Dance probably seemed pointless. Unlike 40 years ago, in the present day, anybody can ask anybody to a dance without it being viewed as weird or nontraditional. Therefore people thought having a whole dance dedicated to the principle of “girls asking guys” was non-inclusive to many groups of people.

Furthermore, around 2008 the structure of our ASB Leadership class changed. Previously there had been ASB student and class officers who could be a part of the Leadership class, but didn’t necessarily have to be (whereas nowadays, it is one centralized class that works together to put on the school events). Because of this it wasn’t a consistent group of people meeting up, which was challenging to work with, hence why it changed. Before it changed, the class officers each worked with a teacher that was the activities advisor for their class. 

Miss Miller, who started teaching at Willow Glen in 1998, described some of the different class officer’s responsibilities, “Each group of officers, with the support of other people in their class, had to put on some sort of event, except for the freshmen because they were still learning how to do stuff. The sophomores were responsible for putting on the Sadie Hawkins Dance. Meanwhile, the junior class had a Junior Prom on campus and then the senior class had a Senior Ball off campus. So those were like the three big things that sophomore, junior, and senior class officers were responsible for.” Because the ASB class changed, there was less of an emphasis on the Sadie Hawkins dance because it wasn’t any particular person’s responsibility. Miss Miller believes that overtime this change in ASB class contributed to the Sadie Hawkins disappearance. 

The last documented Sadies dance was in 2014. In 2016, around the same time the Sadie Hawkins would have occurred, there was another dance called “Lost in the Jungle”. The following year in 2017, there was a “Lost in the Lights” dance. From 2018 to now, there hasn’t been any dance during the February-March time period. Could that change for the 2024 spring semester? Even though it’s been 10 years since the last Sadies, could it make a comeback to Willow Glen? 

If the dance was to be reintroduced, there are adjustments that could be made to fit our current day and age. Instead of the “girls ask the guys” concept being highlighted, the dance could be more centered on twinning with your date. The choice is up to you on who you want to ask, whether that be sticking to “girls ask the guys” or otherwise. This opens up the dance to be more inclusive while keeping the classic Sadie Hawkins feel. 

Based on the attendance for dances like Homecoming and Prom we can hope there would be a good amount of student participation, but we want to know your vote. Would you attend the Sadie Hawkins dance if it were to come back? Let us know in this google form:

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Sarah Miller
Sarah Miller, Advisor

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