Sock hop

A sock hop or sox hop, often also called a record hop[1] or just a hop, was an informal sponsored dance event for teenagers in mid-20th-century North America, featuring popular music.


Sock hops were held as early as 1944 by the American Junior Red Cross to raise funds during World War II.[2] They then became a fad among American teenagers in 1948.[3] Sock hops were commonly held at high schools and other educational institutions, often in the school gym or cafeteria. The term came about because dancers were required to remove their hard-soled shoes to protect the varnished floor of the gymnasium.[4] The music at a sock hop was usually played from vinyl records, sometimes presented by a disc jockey.[4] Occasionally there were also live bands.

In later years, "hops" became strongly associated with the 1950s and early rock and roll.[4] Danny and the Juniors sang "At the Hop" in 1957, which named many popular dances and otherwise documented what happened at a hop.[5] In subsequent decades, with the widespread popularity of sneakers and other types of indoors-only shoes, the practice of removing shoes was dropped. The term then came to be applied more generally to any informal dance for teenagers.[6]


The term caught on in England in the late 1980s during a British rockabilly revival, led by groups like The Stray Cats. "Life Begins at the Hop", a song celebrating sock hops, became the first charting single for XTC.[7] Owl City song "Fireflies" makes reference to the sock hop in the second verse.

See also

  • Sokkie - a similar idea in South Africa
  • School dance - modern incarnation of sock hops, shoes typically being mandatory for safety purposes (to avoid slipping and falling, shoe theft, etc.)
  • Prom - formal school dance in North American high schools, usually held for seniors (and sometimes juniors in a 'junior prom') at the end of the school year
  • Social dance

Works cited

  • McBride, Tom; Nief, Ron (2014). The Mindset List of the Obscure: 74 Famously Forgotten Icons from A to Z. ISBN 9781402293474.


  1. McBride 2014, p. 199.
  2. "Juniors to Hold Important Jobs in War Fund Drive". Evening Star. Washington, DC. 1944-02-27. p. 37.
  3. "Teen-Agers". Life. 1948-12-20. p. 67.
  4. McBride 2014, pp. 200.
  5. McBride 2014, pp. 199-200.
  6. Partridge, Eric (2006). The New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English. Routledge. p. 1811. ISBN 9780415259385.
  7. Bogdanov, Vladimir; Woodstra, Chris; Erlewine, Stephen Thomas (2001). All Music Guide: The Definitive Guide to Popular Music. p. 425. ISBN 0879306270.
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