What would the National Barn Dance be without a square dance? And what
would the square dance be without the caller? WLS' National Barn Dance
had one of the best in John Dolce. John's reputation was such that he was
one of the advisors for the International Square Dance Festival. Mr. Dolce
shared his knowledge of square dancing with the many groups he taught with
the Chicago Park District, and especially enjoyed helping out the beginners.
In fact, the greatest gathering of exhibition square dancers ever assembled
was at Chicago Stadium on October 28, 1950. John Drake of WLS was the chairman and
was put on with the cooperation of the Chicago Park District. Square dancing
back then was seen as one of the most wholesome forms of entertainment and park and
recreation leaders came far and wide to not only help with the planning of the
affair, but to learn from others. They even held a 'clinic' for the study of
techniques at the same Eighth Street Theatre where the Barn Dance was held.
More than 11,000 folks attended this exhibition, from more than 20 states. The program
had unique features such as a Canadian set with all the calls in French; sets
made up of children who had recovered from polio, where dancing was part of their
recovery; sets with a number of blind persons; and of course, a parade of beautiful
costumes and unique callers.