Red Ribbon Squares
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The Red Ribbon Squares, the official square dance club of Santa Monica, was started in 1950 by the late Bob Bevan and his wife Betty.  To help dancers remember which hand was which, Bob had them tie a red ribbon around their left wrist, giving dancers an assist on left allemandes, and giving the club its name.

The Red Ribbons began dancing in the old American Legion Hall on Santa Monica Boulevard and Beloit Avenue.  When the hall was demolished to make way for the Santa Monica Freeway in the  mid 1950s, past president Leonard Larson recalls them "bouncing around for a couple of years," even using a fencing studio in Beverly Hills, until Marine Park was opened.  The first dance held at Marine Park was on December 5, 1959.

Until his death in November 1966, Bob Bevan was the only caller for the club and there was no cuer.  The only round dance was "Silk and Satin" which traditionally was the last dance of the evening.  It goes without saying that the next few months were quite challenging for the other callers and for members dancing to callers other than Bob.

Red Ribbons were a close knit family and held numerous activities together on and off the dance floor.  Annually there were swim parties and a family picnic at Rustic Canyon Park in Pacific Palisades.  Each year was highlighted by an authentic Luau, complete with a pit-roasted pig; the Progressive Dinner which usually involved more than 100 members, and the Christmas Party which included a family pot-luck dinner and a visit from Santa Claus.  In July 1974, a 750th birthday party was held at the Top of Topanga Mobile Home Park -- celebrating the birthdays of 15 different club members who turned 50 within an 18 month period.

Other traditions of past years were a club sheriff who would fine members who did not wear their badges or forgot to wear the club uniforms on party nights, usually the last Saturday of the month.  While visitations to other clubs were rare, once a year we did go on a "Knothead trip."  This entailed a bus trip to a dance more than 100 miles away returning the same night and earned a nail on a special Knothead badge.

The "Crying Towel" was a drawing at each dance for club members only.  There used to be an actual towel, complete with tears and a red ribbon.  It hung from a curtain on the right side of the stage and the names of people who were not present to claim their winnings at a dance were put on the towel.

Until several years ago the club danced every Saturday.  Then the club gave up the 5th Saturday so that those weekends could be used for trips.  In 2004 we began a Mutual Support Agreement with the Heels and Souls, who dance on the 1st and 3rd Fridays of the month.  We alternated the weekends so that members of each club could support the dances of the other. 

On December 12, 2009, the Red Ribbons celebrated 50 years of square & round dancing at Marine Park.  The theme for the evening's festivities was "Happy Holidays Over the Years" accompanied by music & songs from the 50's & 60's up until 2009 as supplied by Arlen Miller calling the squares while Jim Elder cued the rounds.  Memorabilia from 1959-60 and 2009 was on display for everyone to peruse between tips & rounds.  The City Council of Santa Monica presented us with a beautiful citation and Governor Schwarzenegger sent a letter commending us on our efforts to promote square dancing in the community.

Few Red Ribbons from the '50s and '60s are still with us.  But those of us who are wish everyone many more fun-filled years of dancing with the Red Ribbon Squares.

History initially compiled by Jean Cohen, a retired Red Ribbon Squares member from 1966.  Updated October 2016 by Diane Isaacs.

Red Ribbon Squares * The Official Square Dance Club of Santa Monica, CA *

We are members of the South Bay/Westside District
Visit the Associated Square Dancers website
Visit the Associated Square Dancers website

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