50’s fashion may be outdated, but Homecoming is still in style

Dances through the decades

A 1966 Olympus article on Homecoming queens.

For almost 100 years, Olympia High School’s Homecomings have been preserved in records of The Olympus. Within the pages are decades of traditions; some that died out, but many which persisted throughout the rich history of societal changes at our school.

In 1932, Homecoming was referred to as the “first all-high dance”. The school held four dances during the year which freshmen and sophomores were allowed to attend, instead of only two.

Prior knowledge of how to dance was not required, instead, the dance was described as a learning opportunity. “You won’t very easily find another gym floor as good for dancing as ours,” states the article titled “Date Set for First High Dance” published in the 1932 paper. Attending the dance was highly encouraged and described as “an opportunity not to be missed”.

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The All-High dance in 1954 was “Black magic” themed, and took place on October 30th. Spooky decorations haunted the halls of Olympia High, eerie music played as students danced in the graveyard which the gym became. The Halloween-themed dance differs greatly from the early October Homecoming we now carry out. Mary Wagner, the social committee manager at the time, explained her desire for the dance decorations.“It should be scary and mysterious, but not give a cheap effect”.

Every grade was encouraged to attend in semi-formal attire. This entails party dresses for the girls and suits and slacks for the boys. “This is not a corsage dance, corsages are NOT in order” states Mary in the 1954 article titled “Bla-a-a-a-ack Magic to be Dance Motif”.

Patty Barber, a substitute teacher who worked at Olympia High School from 1974 to 2008, explained that during the homecoming assemblies in the 80s, a football player used to strip down to his underwear in front of the entire student body. Barber stressed the idea of how much spirit and joy were present during this season. She was amazed at the dedication Olympia students have to their school.

In 1982, homecoming was held as a Sadie Hawkins dance. It took place in the gym on November 20th and was the only Sadie Hawkins dance of the year. The options for dancing regalia were much less formal. “Skirts, plaid blouses, flannels, long underwear, boots, bandanas, overalls, Levi’s, and cowboy hats” are encouraged by “Swing at the Sadies,” an article by Cheryl Clark published in the 1982 edition of the Olympus.

Ryan Gerrits, a current teacher at OHS who attended the school in 1986, stated that the biggest change he noticed in his years at Olympia is the dramatic change in whom you take to homecoming. “Back when I went to Olympia High School you had to take a date to homecoming. If you did not have a date you simply did not go,” states Gerrits. Gerrits also remembers how the homecoming assembly used to be about entertaining the court. Classes used to make skits to show to the king and queen, “until the content of the skits started to change from funny to inappropriate,” says Gerrits. Just think how many of the homecoming traditions normalized today will soon be things of the past.