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Don Armstrong 
Square Dance Caller, Round Dance Cuer
Don Armstrong in Square Dance Hall Of Fame
ID: 658

Don Armstrong  

Don Armstrong began actively calling and teaching dance (New England squares, contras, quadrilles, folk, and old-time rounds) in 1947 in Florida. In 1951, Don was calling a very large and extremely successful weekly dance in the Gulfport Casino, just outside St. Petersburg, Florida. His band, known all over Florida, did square dance parties for many conventions. The Florida Tourist Board saw the possibilities in this activity and sent Don on a 13,000-mile calling tour across the South, Southwest, and into California to help entice visitors to Florida, making him among the very first group of traveling callers. Along the way, he did free dances at such places as the Grand Canyon, Carlsbad Caverns, and Mammoth Cave. Don was doing a weekly radio show on a Florida station using interviews and lots of live sounds along the tour, and he swung down to Colorado Springs, Colorado, to interview Dr. Lloyd "Pappy" Shaw and his wife, Dorothy, for one of the programs.

Later Don, and his wife Marie, moved to CaƱon City, Colorado. After Dr. Shaw's death, Don helped found the Lloyd Shaw Foundation, and was a member of its Board of Directors and Executive Committee. The Foundation produces recordings that include folk dances, contras, square dances, round dances, circle dances, mixers, and novelty dances.

Don contributed articles to such nationally recognized dance or recreation publications as Square Dancing, the publication of the American Square Dance Society, and he wrote The Caller/Teacher Manual for Contras, published by the Lloyd Shaw Foundation. Don was a member of the Square Dance Hall of Fame and was one of the founding members of Callerlab of the International Association of Square Dance Callers.

Don also ran the Contra Dance Holiday on Thanksgiving weekends in Skippack, Pennsylvania.

Among Don's publications are

  • Caller/Teacher Manual for Contras, The. Sets In Order American Square Dance Society, Los Angeles, California, 1973.
  • Contra Dancing. Lloyd Shaw Foundation Sales Division, PO Box 11, Macks Creek, MO, 65786. More than 100 contra dances along with pictures, diagrams, and descriptions.
  • Don Armstrong's Square Dance Workbook. 1955.
  • Don Armstrong's Reel to Reel Part 1. (Video) Kentucky Dance and Lloyd Shaw Foundation.
  • Don Armstrong's Reel to Reel Part 2. (Video) Kentucky Dance and Lloyd Shaw Foundation.
  • Don Armstrong's Reel to Reel Part 3. (Video) Kentucky Dance and Lloyd Shaw Foundation.

Dances Don taught include Back to Donegal, Balance in the Barn, Balancing Billy, Bonnets of Bonnie Dundee, Broken Sixpence, Caller's Wife, Callison Hall Jig, Calvin Crest, Caman Island Contra, Caribbean Contra, Constant Contra, Crazy Daisy Mixer, Doubtful Shepherd, Dream Lake, Duke of Kent's Waltz Contra, Dumbarton Drums, Flea Market, Hills of Habersham, Homosassa Hornpipe, I Get the Blues, Inflation Reel, January Seventh Jig, Kadie's Kontra, Kansas City Reel, Kitty Hawk Hornpipe, Levi Jackson Rag, Long Valley, Market Lass, Mazurka, Minuet, My Will is Easy to Decide for There is Nothing to Decide, Needham Special, Olympic Promenade, Ottawa Special (British Sorrow), Oyster Shucker's Jig, Queen Victoria, Raccoon Ramble, Riley's Reel, Roundelay Contra, Sackett's Harbor, Shadrack's Delight, Slaunch to Donegal, Spanking Jack, Spitfire Swing, Steamboat Quickstep, Swiss Quadrille Medley, Ten Pretty Girls, Terry Lynn's Jig, Teton Mountain Stomp, Tip Top Quadrille, Tipperary, Today, Topsy Turvy, Trail of the Lonesome Pine, Travel Air Triple, Waltz for Terry, Weaver's Reel, Whisper Ring, and Yucca Jig.

SIO's Article: International minister of square dancing good will might well be the title for our cover caller Don Armstrong. Dated as recently as last November, he was calling and explaining American Square Dancing to enthusiasts in the Canal Zone, to residents of Chile and to square dancers in a newly formed club in Brazil. A year before, his square dance adventuring put him behind the microphone in New Zealand and Australia with a bit of impromptu squaring to the beat of native instruments in Fiji. Don's life today as a semi-retired square dance caller with more than 20 years of calling experience puts him out in the Caribbean, 100 miles the other side of Cuba on an island called Grand Cayman. From skin diving to boating to Scottish country dancing ( with just a dab of square dancing) would seem a far cry from the unusually busy existence that prompted Don to record on more than four labels, contribute such singing calls as Trade Winds, Trail of the Lonesome Pine, Back to Donegal, etc. What is your definition of a versatile caller? One who does an outstanding job with patter calls and singing calls? One who can teach and cue rounds and contras? Perhaps one who can teach beginners, call for regular clubs or entertain 800 squares of beginners with equal ease and ability? Then you'd have to agree that Don Armstrong is indeed everything the word versatile might imply. His most recent and continuing contribution is in the field of contras and Don plays an active part not only in recording contras for the Lloyd Shaw label but in active participation with the Lloyd Shaw Fellowship, Asilomar and other major events. We take pride in honoring Don this month for his many contributions to the field of Square Dancing.

If you have any additional pertinent information about this person, please Contact Debbie.

Recordings by Don Armstrong:
Windsor    Lore    4-Bar-B    Grenn    Lloyd Shaw    Pairs 'N Squares   
Broken Sixpence / Starry Night (waltz)  (comments) (sample clip)  Contra, Lloyd Shaw 209 / 210
Callison Hall Jig  (sample clip) (cue sheet)  Contra, Lloyd Shaw 319 / 320
Coronado Quadrille  Patter, Lloyd Shaw 33  On our wish list
Dixie Darling / Nellie Gray  Singing Call (two vocals), Windsor 4436  On our wish list
Down South / Put On Your Old Gray Bonnet  (sample clip) (lyrics)  Singing Call (two vocals), Windsor 7422
Dream Lake  (sample clip)  Contra, Lloyd Shaw 179 / 180
Dumbarton Drums  (sample clip)  Contra, Lloyd Shaw 171 / 172
Hills Of Habersham / Love's Dream After The Ball  (sample clip) (cue sheet)  Contra, Lloyd Shaw 181 / 182
Hokey Pokey  (sample clip) (cue sheet)  Sing-Along, 4-Bar-B 6056
Homosassa Hornpipe  (comments) (sample clip)  Contra, Lloyd Shaw 163 / 164
I Get The Blues  (sample clip) (cue sheet) (lyrics)  Singing Call, Pairs 'N Squares 802
Kadies Contra  (sample clip)  Contra, Grenn 16007
Mack's Round / Waltz Duet  Round (two-sided) -- with Manning & Nita Smith, Grenn 14009
Mountain Music / Back to Donegal  Singing Call (two vocals), Windsor 4430  On our wish list
Needham Special  (sample clip) (cue sheet)  Contra, Lloyd Shaw 301 / 302
Oh, Johnny / Maverick Waltz  (comments) (lyrics)  Singing Call (instrumental) + Patter, Lloyd Shaw 3301
Pennsylvania Polka  (cue sheet)  Singing Call, Lloyd Shaw 513 / 514  On our wish list
Put On Your Old Gray Bonnet / Down South  (lyrics)  Singing Call (two vocals), Windsor 4422  On our wish list
Queen Victoria / The Bonnets Of Bonnie Dundee  (comments) (sample clip) (cue sheet)  Contra, Lloyd Shaw 173 / 174
Raccoon Ramble  (sample clip) (cue sheet)  Contra, Lloyd Shaw 197 / 198
Roundelay Contra  (sample clip)  Contra, Grenn 16006
Sackett's Harbor  (sample clip)  Contra, Lloyd Shaw 175 / 176
Shadrack's Delight  (sample clip) (cue sheet)  Contra, Lloyd Shaw 193 / 194
Slaunch To Donegal  (comments) (sample clip) (cue sheet) (lyrics)  Singing Call, Windsor 4183
Slaunch To Donegal  (comments) (sample clip) (cue sheet) (lyrics)  Contra, Windsor 4483
Spanking Jack / Saddler's Reel  (sample clip)  Contra, Lloyd Shaw 177 / 178
Terry Lynn's Jig (Come Under My Plaidie)  (sample clip) (cue sheet)  Contra, Lloyd Shaw 167 / 168
The Caller's Wife  (sample clip) (cue sheet)  Contra, Grenn 16005
The Cayman Island Contra  (sample clip) (cue sheet)  Contra, Lloyd Shaw 191 / 192
The Elizabeth Quadrille / The Tiger Rag Quadrille  (sample clip)  Patter (two instrumentals), Lloyd Shaw 3307 / 3308
The January Seventh Jig  (sample clip)  Contra, Lloyd Shaw 317 / 318
The Market Lass  (sample clip) (cue sheet)  Singing Call, Lloyd Shaw 1008
Trail Of The Lonesome Pine  (sample clip) (cue sheet) (lyrics)  Singing Call, Windsor 4814
Trail Of The Lonesome Pine / Floatin' Down To Cottontown  (comments) (sample clip) (cue sheet) (lyrics)  Singing Call (two instrumentals), Windsor 4145
Triolet / Hokey Pokey  (sample clip) (cue sheet)  Contra, Lloyd Shaw 38
When I'm With My Baby  Singing Call, Lore 1105  On our wish list
Whisper Ring  (sample clip) (cue sheet) (lyrics)  Contra, Lloyd Shaw 329 / 330
Windmill Quadrille  (comments) (sample clip) (cue sheet)  Singing Call, Lloyd Shaw 517 / 518
Yankee Doodle Boy / Old Pine Tree  Singing Call (two vocals), Windsor 4428  On our wish list
You're Nobody Til Somebody Loves You / The Grand Square Quadrille  (cue sheet) (lyrics)  Singing Call (vocal) + Patter, Lloyd Shaw 34  On our wish list
Yucca Jig  (sample clip)  Contra, Lloyd Shaw 195 / 196

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