Monday, June 24, 2019

Indian Dance Circle, September 1960

Oops! I woke up this morning at 5:00 AM only to discover that there was no new blog post! Ol' Major Pepperidge screwed up. Never fear, a little re-jiggering will save the day.

The old Indian Dance Circle is long-gone... but at its peak it was a big draw in Frontierland. Just look at this first picture! The area is packed. I'm trying to glean some details, like the "sort of" terraced slope to the left, or the rustic awnings that presumably provided shade for the Indian performers on breaks. Pretty meager shade, I'd say.

This was the final portion of the show, in which children were asked to join in the dancing, and did they ever! You know it was the best part for the kids - and probably for the parents as well.

A little later in the day a familiar blond lady returned for a photo when it wasn't so crowded. The chief in the background often wore bright pink or purple shirts so that he would stand out among the multitudes.


stu29573 said...

What strikes me about the second picture (other than the pretty girl) is how "real" the place was. Those are REAL weeds lining the REAL rocks in the REAL dirt! Now, everything would be fiberglass and plastic (or at least the groundskeepers' fingerprints would be all over it). There is something to be said for "real," I think. And pretty girls...

Nanook said...

The apparent "all skate", (or was it "ladies choice") portion of the ceremony-? Not to mention the young gentleman, near the right side in white tee shirt and clamdiggers, with the tapering, horizontal black stripes pattern running down his pants leg. (Perhaps it was part of the ceremonial garb-?)

@ stu29573-
I'm afraid "real" is too messy. Plastic, fiberglass and projections are the way to go these days.

Thanks, Major.

DrGoat said...

Great pics Major. They bring back vague memories.
I think Ive spotted Aunt Esther, Fred's old nemesis, in the center backround. Also, who could be an actual amused Native American on the left.
Thanks M.

Melissa said...

These are gorgeous; I can almost feel that California sunshine!

JC Shannon said...

Adults and kids alike, having a great time and learning authentic Native American dances. Kinda makes you wonder who made the bonehead decision to get rid of it. Out there having fun, in the warm California sun. I'm in!

JG said...

Wow, Major. I have never seen such a crowd in a Dance Circle photograph. Had no idea it was ever that popular. I have only the faintest memory of the place and recall it as a little dull to five year old me.

@ stu29573 & Nanook; Back when admission was five bucks, weeds and dirt were fine. Now if I am paying almost a thousand dollars a day combined in admission, meals, parking and lodging, I want the best artificial stuff available.

Also, the natural stuff is easier to sue over. Nothing in that photograph will meet today's wheelchair-accessible codes for amphitheater seating.


Chuck said...

There were real weeds and dirt in Frontierland, yet the only plants you could buy at Disneyland were artificial. Weird.

Graffer said...

I remember being about 6 years old, sitting and watching the Indian dance and later joining in at the end of the performance. This kid's 'dance' was nothing more than holding hands and walking sideways in a big circle around the area.

But, my biggest memory from that event is that this was a big waste of our precious time in Disneyland because although living locally, our visits were very rare. I knew that there were many wonderful things to see and do that we were missing in order to sit and watch dancing.

K. Martinez said...

Native Americans replaced by singing bears then critters of the Hundred Acre Wood and Chickapin Hill. Disneyland sure has come a long way. Thanks, Major.

Irene said...

Back in the 50's and 60's when we went to Disneyland once a year this was a must see attraction for my Dad. He loved this stuff! My brother Bruce, who was older, was allowed to go off on his own but for much of the 50's I was deemed too young to do that (and no way would Bruce let me go with him!) so I was stuck with whatever my parents wanted to do like Graffer said. I liked it to a certain point but I wanted to keep moving and doing things. I especially loved to run around on Tom Sawyer Island. You know, they still have a Native American dancer who performs most days at Knotts Berry Farm and he always draws a nice crowd.

Andrew said...

I was concerned for a moment when I checked the site this morning. Thanks for getting these up, Major!

I sometimes wonder what the Indians thought of performing in a theme park. My guess it that they enjoyed it, especially if it let them show their "real" culture to the public and was a good-paying gig.

JG said...

@Chuck, we liked it that way. Fake plants are cleaner and no hay fever.

@Graffer, exactly.


Major Pepperidge said...

stu29573, I agree with you, though it is also important to note that some of that realism was probably a result of what was available in the 1950’s, as far as money and materials were concerned.

Nanook, hey, I’m good with that guy’s fashion statement. Especially clamdiggers! After all, I wear a kilt most places.

DrGoat, are we talking more “I Love Lucy” lore? I can’t escape Lucy, no matter how I try!

Melissa, I really do love that first one, along with the second image (the detail). Look at all of the smiling faces in the crowd.

Jonathan, sadly I think that the Indian Dance Circle might have run its course; the public’s interest might have waned, and I think that the Native American activists weren’t too crazy about it either.

JG, I’m sure that the Dance Circle was hella crowded if you were there on peak days. I have no memories of it at all, and would bet money that my family never made it that far north along the western edge of the River. I still can’t wrap my brain around having to spend nearly $1000 to take a few people to Disneyland for the day.

Chuck, ha ha, it’s true!

Graffer, kids are easy to please, and looking at the faces on the adults, it left the whole audience in a happy mood at the end of the show. Which is pretty great. My mom, dad, and grandparents were just not the kind who would sit and watch a show, and the Dance Circle would be no exception.

K. Martinez, I know I am in the minority, but I actually kind of like the Pooh ride, and I definitely like Splash Mountain, so it wasn’t a total loss as far as I am concerned.

Irene, it’s so funny the way siblings want to avoid each other at a certain point in life, and then they realize that they can be friends. I always thought that I was an exceptional big brother to my sis, and then she told me that I was terrible to her (sometimes). I was so shocked! I actually did NOT know that Knott’s still had Native American dancers, that’s a cool thing.

Penna. Andrew, it seems like I screw up like this every few months. It’s nothing to be concerned about! It does seem like the performers were enjoying themselves, but it might have become a grind too.

JG, of course real live plants are great, but I agree, for sheer ease and convenience, fake plants can’t be beat.