Weegee Wednesday: Dancing is Free at a Summer Barn Dance in Central Park

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Weegee, Dancing is Free in Central Park, July 1945 (644.1993)

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Weegee, Dancing is Free in Central Park, July 1945 (14854.1993)

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Weegee, Dancing is Free in Central Park, July 1945 (645.1993)

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Weegee, Dancing is Free in Central Park, July 1945 (649.1993)

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Weegee, Dancing is Free in Central Park, July 1945 (242.1996)

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Weegee, Dancing is Free in Central Park, July 1945 (16709.1993)

At 1 PM on Saturday, July 14, 1945, at the Mall in Central Park, in front of the bandshell, in Manhattan, the Seventeen Summer Barn Dance was held. Fortunately, (as the bombing of Japan intensified and a few days before the Potsdam Conference) a few days before Naked City was published, Weegee was there… Apparently the Seventeen Magazine sponsored dance was held, in part, because the U.S. armed forces were using a lot of the trains for World War Two troop transportation and many young people couldn’t get to summer camp.

“While Ed Durlacher’s band played old-time tunes, hundreds of young folks joined in the square dancing and in playing country games at a Summer Barn Dance held on the Mall in Central Park last Saturday afternoon.” PM, July 22, 1945, pp. m1-m3. Josh White and his four year old son, Josh Jr., also performed. According to Billboard Magazine, Maurine Cannon and Bob Field were also featured in the Barn Dance.

The Barn Dance was broadcast on WNYC radio, on a program called “Modern Music Barn Dance Central Park” (1-2 PM), after an hour long program called “Music at Work for defense workers” (12-1 PM) and before a Symphonic Matinee broadcast of the Saint-Saëns Cello Concerto in A-minor (2-3 PM), and a few hours before a program called “Music to Swim By” (5-6 PM), according to a Sunday, July 15, 1945 radio schedule, printed in PM.

It’s not known if Weegee’s photos were published in newspapers at the time. PM published six photos of the Barn Dance by Skippy Adelman, on Sunday July 22, 1945. The photos, perhaps their first time in print, make a delightful page spread in Weegee’s People (1946).

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Weegee, Weegee’s People, 1946

Weegee Wednesdays is an occasional series exploring, or just enjoying, the life and work of Weegee.

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