What is a sock hop?

Simply put, a sock hop is a dance. First becoming popular in the 1950’s, these dances were usually held for teenagers. They typically took place in high school gyms and cafeterias.

This is a picture from a recent sock hop party that show how to entertain younger children.

This is a picture from a recent sock hop party that shows how to entertain younger children.

In fact, their location is what earned them their name. In order to protect the varnished gymnasium floor, dancers were required to remove their shoes at the beginning of the dance. This left them in their socks and stockings, which helped them in doing dances such as the Twist, the Mashed Potato, and many more.

Due to their popularity, most dances were sock hops. However, hops were different from other dances in that they were informal. They were very common and didn’t require teens to get too dressed up.

These dances were so informal, that people usually didn’t even attend with a partner. People went to these hops simply to dance and enjoy the music. Unlike normal dances, these dances weren’t exclusively evening events; in fact, they were a common after-school event.

Sock hops began dying down toward the end of the 1960’s. After the advent of sneakers, indoor only shoes, dancers no longer needed to take off their shoes before dancing on the gym floor. Because they were no longer wearing just socks, informal dances began to be referred to as just dances.

As new styles of dance and dance attire emerged in the 1970’s and 80’s, specific styles of shoes, such as heels for women, became essential elements of the types of dances being performed. Partners were also required for these new types of dance. As disco dancing became more and more popular, informal, non-romantic dances became more and more rare.

In the 1990’s, sock hops began to regain their popularity. They were pushed among grade schools and middle schools because of their unromantic nature. Chaperones dotted the dance floor and parents were occasionally invited, as well, to ensure that the enjoyment of dancing remained the main focus of the dance.

In the past twenty years, sock hops have continued to be popular among young adults. They may be called by a different name, but the idea is still the same. No matter what they are called, these informal dances help people to set aside their worries and concerns and just enjoy the music.

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