The Beginning of San Diego Smooth Dancers Chapter I
The concept of a San Diego Chapter of National Smooth Dancers was born in the years following WW-II when the late George Buck was transferred to this area from Los Angeles. George, a Los Angeles NSD member, was a good organizer and very enthusiastic about the Smooth Dancers. He spoke about it to an interested group of dancers who frequented San Diego's Trianon Ballroom. The Trianon was one of several ballrooms that were active in San Diego in the min-20th Century. On the first of July, 1947, a chapter was executed and signed by 52 dancers. Our chapter was thus organized and became a club, although not yet affiliated with NSD.
We became an official part of NSD on November 4, 1949, when we became the first chapter to receive an official charter from the parent organization in Los Angeles. Colors adopted were tangerine and white and the Bird of Paradise came our official flower. Our first President was Beryl Bennet and our first Queen was Doris Goode. The stated purpose of our club was to have fun, improve our dancing, encourage ballroom dancing and to accomplish some worthy charity work each year.
By the time we had received our official charter, our membership had grown to 91. Our newly chartered club hit the ground running, driven by vigor and enthusiasm. A major annual event sponsored by our Chapter throughout our first decade and beyond was known as the Dancing Cavalcade. This was a very ambitious undertaking, patterned after New York's Harvest Moon Ball. The objective was to conduct a series of contests to determine the top amateur ballroom dancers not only in San Diego, but throughout California. In its original form, The Dancing Cavalcade went on for several weeks at various dance venues until champions in each dance style could be determined at a final competitive event. Revenues produced by the Dancing Cavalcade helped to support worthy charities, including the Cerebral Palsy foundation and others.
In those early years, the San Diego Chapter held its meetings and dance events in various locations, many of which do not survive today. One that has survived is the Balboa Park Club, which played a significant role in our early history. Others include the Vasa Hall, which some of our present members may remember. The San Diego Chapter held many business meetings and some of its dance events at Vasa Hall as its opening decade unfolded.
Although the Dancing Cavalcade has faded into yellowed pages of the past, many of the club's early traditions have survived the test of time. Major holidays were celebrated in dance, and a new Queen was crowned annually. State Conventions have been held on Labor Day weekends since the first one was held in San Francisco in 1950. In 1954, San Diego hosted its first State Convention. The theme was "Fiesta in Old California". The event reportedly drew 250 attendees. Following initial activities at University Ballroom, the event moved to Balboa Park Club on Sunday night for a grand ball and finals in four divisions of state ballroom championships.
I am pleased to present a page from SDSD's 1958 scrapbook. Our club's New Years Eve party was held that year in Balboa Park at the House of Hospitality. Locations have changed over the years, but the celebrations appear to be pretty much as they would be today. Food, drink, and plenty of dancing were enjoyed by our members as Champagne corks popped, horns blew, and cheers filled the spaces as clocks struck midnight. San Diego Smooth Dancers have always known how to celebrate the coming of a new year. We are told that what goes around comes around, so let's hope a new group of Smooth Dancers, some yet to be born, will be joyously celebrating the arrival of New Year sixty years hence in 2078.