A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from December 11, 2006
Square Dance Capital of the World (McAllen nickname)

McAllen in south Texas has hosted the Texas Square Dance Jamboree since 1987, and McAllen promotes itself as the “Square Dance Capital of the World.” The Texas Legislature hasn’t made that nickname official, but it probably will.

Handbook of Texas Online
MCALLEN, TEXAS. McAllen is on U.S. Highway 83 about sixteen miles west of Weslaco and thirty-five miles west of Harlingen in southern Hidalgo County. It is situated on land that was part of porciones 63 and 64, granted respectively by Spain to Antonio Gutiérrez and Juan Antonio Villareal in 1767. Gutiérrez and his heirs inhabited the land at least up to 1883, and Villareal’s heirs lived on his land for at least fifty years prior to 1852. The Santa Anita Ranch was established around 1797 by José Manuel Gómez, who received the land grant from Spain in 1800.
McAllen celebrates several annual events, including the Candlelight Posada, held in Archer Park in early December, the Fourth of July Fajita Cookoff, the Texas Citrus Fiesta, Springfest!, Borderfest, and the Annual Texas Square Dance Jamboree. The city population was estimated at 84,021 in 1990, when McAllen had more than 2,000 businesses. McAllen is bordered on all sides by colonias of varying sizes, inhabited primarily by agricultural workers.

McAllen Chamber of Commerce
Square Dance Capital of the World

Each fall, close to 10,000 avid square dancers do-si-do their way down to the Rio Grande Valley of Texas to spend the winter and swing their partners in the Valley’s friendly and benevolent climate.

Since square dancing is not so much a hobby as a way of life, many fans choose their winter destination on the basis of the square dancing available.

Often the decision depends on who the caller will be at a specific RV or mobile home park.

McAllen has been dubbed “Square Dance Capital of the World” because of the number of dancers, the amount of square dance activity, and the number of callers and round dance cuers who set the pace for this popular pastime. It is possible to dance every hour of the day and well into the night, any day of the week, in McAllen and nearby towns. The McAllen Chamber of Commerce publishes a directory which lists dances, workshops and classes in the area, and is available at the McAllen Chamber of Commerce’s information center, (956) 682-2871.

In 1987, the McAllen Chamber staged the first “Texas Square Dance Jamboree” and has repeated the event each year with the help of the callers Jerry Story, Joe Saltel, Bob Baier, Wiley Hutchinson, Larry Letson and Darryl Lipscomb. In addition, 13 years ago the six callers and the Chamber initiated another program which has become “The World’s Largest Beginners’ Square Dance Class” meeting every Monday morning for two hours for three weeks beginning in mid-January.

McAllen Annual Events
Texas Square Dance Jamboree
2500 S Bicentenial Blvd, Civic Center, McAllen, TX 78503

A highlight of the South Texas winter, this Square Dance Jamboree brings in tens of thousands of dance-crazy participants, internationally-known callers and great country western music. Complimenting the down-home good times are great food and some of the friendliest, most fast-footed folks you’d ever care to meet. If you want to attend an event that screams “This is the Lone Star State!,” mark the Texas Square Dance Jamboree high on your list.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Monday, December 11, 2006 • Permalink