in the summer of 1951, the earliest beginning of Jokers was taking
form. Johnny White had his first beginners class at San Tomas School.
This class plus the next one, which met in an unfinished store in the
Quito Shopping Center, formed the nucleus of the club in October 1951.
In true Joker fashion, however, the club's birthday "Traditionally"
comes whenever in the year that it seems appropriate, usually in
November or December.
After several trials of unsatisfactory names, the name "JOKERS" was chosen, since the group consisted of a bunch of Jokers and someone happened to have a Joker from a deck of playing cards that was particularly expressive of the male membership, (an interesting note - a couple of years ago a duplicate of the original playing card that inspired the Joker emblem was discovered in a very unusual place by one of the original Jokers).
Back in the early days, before there were many hoedowns in the San Jose area, all the club members would travel in car caravans on Saturday nights - 1st Saturday to Grasshoppers, 2nd Saturday to Valley Swinger, 3rd Saturday to Harmony Hoe downers or 49ers, and 4th Saturday to Dip 'N Divers. Most of these dances were across the bay, except 49ers in San Francisco, and neither rain, sleet, nor fog could keep us from our Saturday night square dance. Some of these jaunts, at times, resulted in the whole caravan getting lost, trying to find a hall, while being led by someone who claimed to know the way.
At the 1954 Golden State Roundup in Oakland, the first animated club banner made its appearance - the tongue-wagging, eye-blinking "JOKER". It has always given people something to talk about and, once again, was the center of attention when it appeared at the 25th National Square Dance Convention in Anaheim in 1976.
In 1954, long before Hawaii became a state, Jokers had a hoedown with a Hawaiian theme, grass skirts and all. This was the start of a procession of theme dances, many with elaborate stage and hall settings. There was a riverboat dance, among others, and the Jokers were the real leaders of the Space Age. They and their guests were "Dancing on the Moon" back in November 1955.
The Jokers were active in the formation
the Santa Clara Valley Square Dancers Association, and supplied its
first president, RAY WORREL. In 1962, our association hosted the State
Square Dance Convention in San Jose. The Jokers had a fun-type
exhibition group at the time, and we presented our "Olympic Square
Dance Team" at the convention. Johnny White called for the Jokers for
26 years retiring in 1978. He called for the Jokers from 1951 to May
1978 when he left we had 26 couples in the club. In July 1978 the
Jokers hired Dick Lawrence, there were 24 couples in the club when he
started. He left us in December 1980 with 13 couples in the club. When
Dick left we hired Johnny Robertson in March 1981 with 13 couples in
the Jokers. He left in December 1982 with 18 couples left in the club.
In March 1983 we had the opportunity to get Kip Garvey as our caller.
He started with 18 couples and built our club up to 59 couples when he
left in 1987. When Kip left we were lucky again, a new caller from
Southern California was transferred to our area. His name was Scott
Slocum. He started with us in 1987 with 57 couples. He was transferred
to another area in December 1990, leaving with 42 couples. We then
hired Doug Davis. He started in January 1991 with 42 couples and
left in April 1992 with 50 couples in the club. Scott Slocum again came
back to the area and started to call for us in May 1992 with 39 couples
he left in March 1996 with 35 couples in the club, then he was
transferred again. In 1996 Gary Carnes became our caller with 35
couples. He left in March 2000 with 28 couples left in the club. Bob
Elling started in June 2000 with 23 couples remaining in the Jokers and
left in December 2003 with 22 couples. Roger Smith became the club's
caller in December 2003 and continues to call and teach for the club
with wonderful support from his partner Josie Baumgartner.
* * *
updated May 20, 2005
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