'Homeliest Gal' Inspired the Sadie Hawkins Dance

It all started with a comic strip
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 22, 2013 10:01 AM CST
'Homeliest Gal' Inspired the Sadie Hawkins Dance
The Sadie Hawkins Dance originated in a comic strip.   (Shutterstock)

Where did the idea of the Sadie Hawkins Dance—the one in which the girls ask the boys, rather than vice versa—come from? The phenomenon, huge in the mid-20th century, gets its name from a fictional character, Today I Found Out explains. The comic strip Lil' Abner, by Al Capp, launched in 1934, and it featured one Sadie Hawkins: the "homeliest gal in all them hills." In order to find her a husband, her father organized a race that had her chasing all the local bachelors. "Th’ one she ketches’ll be her husbin," her father said.

The race took place yearly, and it was preceded by a Sadie Hawkins Dance, to which ladies wore hob-nailed boots and stepped on the gents' feet in order to slow them down the next day. Five years after the strip launched, some 200 colleges were holding a Sadie Hawkins Day, presumably without the threat of boot-induced injury. The idea appealed to people in the repressed 1930s, Kathy Padden writes: It provided a rare opportunity for women to be open about love interests. Though today its popularity has waned, some 40,000 places marked the day in 1952. (Read more Sadie Hawkins Day stories.)

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