Dancing Around Town
How many of us remember the dances of our youth? Over the years new fads in dancing have been the norm in young society. I imagine that back in the 1890’s dancing was much more formal than it is today. There was no place that catered to dancing, and the only chance that boys and girls had to dance was the occasional event at Christmas time. I’m sure there were dances sponsored by a local church at Christmas.
When the Wicomico Hotel was opened in 1925, the entire seventh floor was a ballroom. Dancing had become very popular in the 1920’s, and the local guys and gals were no different from the rest of the country. This trend continued through the depression years of the 1930’s and provided much relief from the real world.
The Second World War really changed how the sexes intermingled on the dance floor. While the Charleston was considered quite risqué, it couldn’t hold a candle to the jitterbug. Even at my class reunions, there are some couples that can still jitterbug as good as ever.
There were places around Salisbury that catered to dancing. The most popular one over the years has to be the Northwood Bar (pictured above c. 1960). What began as an ordinary house was transformed by Winfield Dennis into the night spot of the Eastern Shore. Patrons would come from as far north as Dover in Delawareand as far south as Exmore on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Winfield was a man who couldn’t read or write anything but his name, yet he knew business and what people wanted. The place was packed every Friday and Saturday night. No doubt, it was the place to be.
Over the years, there have been many places that list themselves as “night clubs”, and most of them had a juke box for listening or dancing. Spots such as the Cozy Cabin on the old Delmar Road or the Log Cabin Service Station on Spring Hill Road (now Route 50 west) that advertised “dancing, beer, refreshments and soft drinks” were listed in the Yellow Pages in 1940. By 1950, there was only one listing and that was for Rick’s Motel and Bar on Foskey Lane in Delmar. By 1960, there are no “night clubs” listed in the Yellow Pages. I don’t know what they were listed under, but there were several places that catered to the imbibers with itchy feet.
When I was in high school, the local churches would sponsor dances on Friday night. The most popular was Bethesda. After a Friday night football game, it was really crowded. They also had a dance at the Fellowship Hall on N. Division Street which was under the auspices of Asbury Church. St. Peter’s had some dances in their Parish House basement. In all, the parents tried very hard to provide wholesome entertainment for the teenagers. Whether dancing or watching, everyone seemed to have a good time and they were always under the watchful eyes of the chaperones.