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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Teen Dance Party: 1950s

Teen Dance Party: 1950s

Here we see some teens at a dance party. I love the formal attire. Scanned from a Kodak safety negative. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

The dancing starts

when the camera is put away!

That sofa

is iconic.

My mother always referred to it as a "chesterfield"; a throwback to her British heritage.

As usual

The guys look like boys and the girls look like women. I think I was at this party!

Scarlett O'Hara's ball gown

Or, in this picture, a lampshade.

How quickly we forget

First of all, Dad always came in with the camera early, took a couple photos and left. Mom made "pigs in blankets" and "cheese dreams," served them an hour or so in. Then they left, and after an hour, when the lights were off and the corner lamp had something over it to dim the light, those immortal words were spoken: "What's going on in there?"

Doesn't matter the era, hormones are hormones!

Worst party ever

No soda or snacks in sight? The boys look as though they're more interested in watching the test pattern on the neighbors' new TV, and the girls obviously wish they were on the back of Marlon Brando's motorcycle.

Late to the party

Having been born in 1948, I was too young to be a participant in this party. But I was observing older brothers and sisters of friends. And this is right on!

Couch probably had a stiff plastic couch-shaped cover that was removed only for "company." We had several of the shag throw rugs that on washday always went in the wringer washer dead last (after my dad's overalls). Prints on the wall are just tacked up, with little regard to "interior decorating." Palm tree might be from a paint-by-number kit. Coffee & end tables are Duncan Phyfe revival from the 1940s -- lyre design is still sought after today. Wonder if the teens' eyes were trained on a newfangled television set.

In the possibly apocryphal last words of Oscar Wilde,

"Either the wallpaper goes or I do."


The 45s are probably that new dangerous rock n roll stuff. Love the shoes kicked off under the sofa. Any second the P's are going to pop through that door and the party is over.

More cokes!

The party's starting to get rough....the shoes are coming off. It won't be long before someone is wearing that god-awful, swirling lampshade on his head.

But where is tterrace?

50 years have passed and I feel just as inadequate. That body hiding under the sofa is me, wanting to be in the group, but too scared to show myself. I love that kid in the center of the sofa--the one tongue in cheek like "oh, yeah, I can dance better'n that."


Circa 1955. Sofa, 1948-51.


Looks like a stack of 45s on the coffee table.

I was there

Hey, I was at an identical party on Valentine's Day 1959. I was 11 and didn't have a clue about girls, especially the girl I now realize was hot for me. Lost opportunities.


Dance? More like a teen "sit around" party.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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