What Is the History of the Sadie Hawkins Dance?


Quick Answer

The tradition of the Sadie Hawkins dance, where girls invite the boys, originated in a 1937 "Li’l Abner" comic strip, written by cartoonist Al Capp. In the comic, Sadie Hawkins is a spinster who chases bachelors in the town of Dogpatch and gets to marry the one she catches.

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Full Answer

In "Li’l Abner," Sadie Hawkins was a homely spinster, whose father, Hekzebiah Hawkins, held a race to help his daughter catch a man. The rest of the single women liked the idea so much, Sadie Hawkins Day became an annual event. Under the rules of the race, if a woman caught a man and dragged him over the finish line before sunset, he had to marry her. In the comic strip, a dance was held the night before the race, where the women would stomp on the bachelors’ feet, to slow them down the next day.

The storyline was so popular, schools across the United States began holding Sadie Hawkins dances. By 1939, more than 200 colleges were celebrating Sadie Hawkins Day, and by 1952, more than 40,000 Sadie Hawkins events were reported.

Capp created Sadie Hawkins Day as a device for the comic strip character Daisy Mae to pursue the main character, Li’l Abner. She chases him for 15 years, until finally catching and marrying him in 1952.

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