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c. 1940s-1950s

Sock-hops of the ’40s and ’50s

Protect the floor at all costs.

You know the one big problem with going clubbing today? Shoes. Everyone wears shoes — and that was just not an issue at the so-called ‘sock hops’ of the late ’40s and early ’50s.

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On the contrary, dancing with shoes on was a big no-no. Why? These were school dances, often held in the school gymnasiums. And those gyms were replete with beautifully polished, shiny, wooden floors. But as beautiful as they were, the floors were highly prone to scratching: Outdoor shoes were strictly prohibited.

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The sock-hop was even immortalized in song. Danny & the Juniors reached number one on the charts with “At The Hop” in January 1958. Fifteen years later and the song was featured in the 50s-inspired film “American Graffiti,” a homage to the era of the hop.

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Some have surmised that shoes were removed to enable the teenagers of America to be able to do “The Twist” more easily, a-slipping and a-sliding in socks and stockings. But it’s chronologically incorrect — Chubby Checker’s “The Twist” was not released until 1958, by which time sock hops were just about starting to seem a little outdated.

By the 1960s, the sneaker had assumed its position as the footwear of choice. Scratching wouldn’t return until the hip-hop of the early 80s — and gym teachers could finally breathe a sigh of relief.

Los Angeles Examiner/USC Libraries/Corbis via Getty Images
Los Angeles Examiner/USC Libraries/Corbis via Getty Images
Los Angeles Examiner/USC Libraries/Corbis via Getty Images
Photo by Nina Leen/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images
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Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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