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The History of Sadie Hawkins Dances

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Though old-school taboos like wearing white before Labor Day or mixing black with brown are now commonly accepted, one tradition that seems to have stuck around is that - in most cases - the boy still asks the girl to prom.

We're modern thinkers and we believe that events should be an equal opportunity invitation, but for the girls that feel deprived, we have just the event for you. The Sadie Hawkins dance gives a girl her chance to be choosy and invite whomever her little heart desires.

Who was Sadie Hawkins?:

So just who was this Sadie Hawkins girl? Believe it or not, the entire tradition of the girl-asks-boy dance originates from a comic strip. In the famous cartoon-turned-musical Li'l Abner, there was a designated day in November when unmarried women could chase bachelors around the town in hopes of catching them for marriage.

According to the story, little Miss Sadie Hawkins was "the homeliest gal in all them hills" and this fateful day was her favorite - and the town bachelor's most dreaded - day of the year. As the comic gained popularity, a holiday inspired by the perpetually single Sadie was born.

How did Sadie Hawkin's dances begin?:

Schools across the US drew inspiration from the quirky holiday and began throwing dances on Sadie Hawkins Day. Originally they took place on the Saturday after November 9th - the same time the festivity took place in Li'l Abner - but today Sadie Hawkins celebrations pop up anytime between November and February.

What is a Sadie Hawkin's dance?:

Even though the holiday has been around since 1937 and most dance-goers are unaware of the hilarious history behind the idea, the girl-asks-boy date is still commonly named after sweet little Sadie Hawkins.

Other monikers for the dance include acronyms like TWA (The Woman Asks), WPA (Women Pay All), and TWIRP (The Woman Is Required to Pay).

Extra Credit:

  • Though this dance is often a formal occasion, some couples celebrate by wearing coordinating outfits so everyone at the dance can tell they are together.
  • The popular rock band Relient K has a song called "Sadie Hawkins Dance" including lyrics like "All the girls in the bathroom talking, who they gonna take to the Sadie Hawkins. My ears are burning but I kept on walking, smile on my face and an air guitar rocking"
  • After an episode of Disney's Lizzie McGuire series centered about the middle school drama of a Sadie Hawkins dance, the creators behind Li'l Abner tried - and failed - to sue Disney over their unauthorized use of "Sadie Hawkins."
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