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About the Sock Hop


    • Sock hops began in the 1950s. Schools had dances in gymnasiums, but school principals realized that smooth gym floors were susceptible to scuffing from sneakers and other rubber-soled shoes. So at these dances, the principal made the students remove their sneakers or saddle oxfords and dance in socks. Chaperons, usually parents or teachers, were present to keep an eye on students' behavior.

    Social Significance

    • Removing socks felt like a form of rebellion to students despite the fact that the principals required it. There was a period of time during the hop when the lights would be dimmed, allowing students to "neck" (a slang term that meant "make out from the neck up"). Previously, students felt pressure to have a date or escort to school dances. Sock hops invited a less formal and more group-oriented atmosphere with less pressure to attend with a date.


    • Sock hop attire has become a common Halloween costume, especially for girls. Girls usually wore poodle skirts and bobby socks. They most often wore their hair in a ponytail, a beehive or just in curls. Guys would opt for denim jeans, leather jackets and slicked-back hair. Although students were required to remove their shoes, shoes were still part of the sock hop fashion. Girls wore saddle oxfords and guys wore Converse All-Star sneakers.


    • Disc jockeys provided the music at most sock hops. Some schools opted for live bands, but this was less common. Generally, disc jockeys played early rock 'n' roll music. Popular artists included Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, the Everly Brothers and the Platters. Many of the songs played by the disc jockey were dance songs. These songs had a popular dance associated with and named after them. Examples include the Twist, Cha-Cha, Hustle, Harlem Shuffle, Stroll and Hand Jive. Both couple dances and group dances were played at sock hops.

    Musical Significance

    • Disc jockeys playing records for a live audience was a new thing. Most homes did not have record players, and so music was heard through jukeboxes, radios or live performances. Going out and dancing to disc jockeys playing records rather than dancing to live bands was a new phenomenon that had just reached America from Europe. According to "Disc Jockey 101," a disc jockey at a sock hop acted as a kind of "human jukebox" for the dancers. Disc jockeys would play records and briefly talk between songs while changing records.

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