Dancing Through the Great Depression

Out on the Town

formal dance in 1936
Formal dance in 1936.
Carolina alumni of the 1930s fondly recall that dances were a prominent part of the University's social scene, despite homemade dresses and borrowed tuxedoes. Formal and informal dances were held throughout the year on both on weeknights and weekends, and were sponsored by fraternities and other student clubs, including the German and the Damas dance clubs.


1934 Dance Card. Students signed each others' cards after dancing together
1934 Dance Card.
Students signed each others'
cards after dancing together.
Most dances were held at the gym, now Longstreet Theatre, and some were held at the elegant Jefferson Hotel ballroom. Buster Spann and his Gamecock Orchestra often provided the music. The University's social season culminated with the June Ball, an all-night event that finally wrapped up around six a.m. After the dances, students gathered at local restaurants, such as the Metropolitan Café on Main Street, for coffee and a piece of pie.


A coed poses in front of a car on campus in 1934.
A coed poses in front of a car
on campus in 1934.
 

The wall around the Horseshoe
was a popular student meeting place.
Other than dances, the students' amusements of the day were simple. Smokers bought their packs for ten cents, or bummed a puff off a friend when a dime was unavailable. Few students had automobiles on campus, and those were typically of the rattletrap variety. Students who lived in the city and had use of a father's car for the evening had a distinct advantage over the carless out-of-town students.


Burnett's Drug Store was located on Main Street, behind Wardlaw College.
Burnett's Drug Store was
located on Main Street,
behind Wardlaw College.
Boys and girls walked uptown at night to the movie houses on Main Street, went bowling, shared a milkshake at Burnett's Drug Store, held picnics, played the piano in the women's dorm lounge, or simply sat on campus benches, talking and holding hands. One alumna recalled that for eleven cents, a student could have a big night at the College Shop next to the Town Theater on Sumter Street, by buying a Coca-Cola and package of crackers.


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