A Brief History of the Sadie Hawkins Dance

Written by Jeremiah Johnston

The first time a young woman asked me to a dance, I didn’t realize it was happening.

“Oh…hi Jeremiah,” she said. In hindsight, I think an entourage of her friends were watching about 20 paces away. She approached alone. I was sitting under a tree with my own awkward friend group. 

“Hello?”

“Are you going to the homecoming dance?” I’ve never been one for crowds, so going never even occurred to me.

“Uh…no. I don’t think I am.”

“Oh,” she looked a little flustered. “Okay.” She walked away. Thinking the whole encounter was slightly weird, I went back to eating my lunch.

Weeks later, my mom came into the kitchen with a conspiratorial grin on her face. “Jeremiah,” she said. I looked up from my homework.“”I just talked with Carter’s mom. Alison asked you to the dance, and you turned her down?”

“She what?”

While I was in high school, a girl asking a guy out on a date wouldn’t be that odd, but that hasn’t always been the case. Way back in 1937, a chance story in LIL’ ABNER, the comic by Al Capp, created the precedent for such an event. Called the Sadie Hawkins dance, it would be the one time a year when the women could ask out the guys.

The story that inspired the event went as thus. In the LIL’ ABNER canon, the wealthiest man in Dogpatch, KY — Mr. Hekzebiah Hawkins — had a somewhat homely daughter. Because she had failed to attract a man for the last 15 years, Mr. Hawkins decided on a drastic solution. I’ll let the comic strip speak for itself:

sadie hawkins dance
LIL’ ABNER, November 15, 1937. Image courtesy of Capp Enterprises.

The comic was a hit, and high schools across the country began introducing the Sadie Hawkins dance. At first, they started like the comic suggested: women would chase guys around with nets, trying to “catch” a date. Later, it turned into women simply extending an invitation. As anecdotes from the day say, women mostly asked out their friends. Al Capp, in response to copious fan mail, published a Sadie Hawkins strip every November for the next 40 years.

I only remember one Sadie Hawkins dance at my high school. As far as I remember, no one really knew the history, just the name. Any indication that this dance began as a poke at a poor girl’s lot in life was gone. Sadie Hawkins dances just became another awkward stage of being a teenager.

And in that spirit — returning to our younger days — we asked the ComicsVerse team which male comic book character they would ask to a Sadie Hawkins dance. With any hope, the courted won’t be as clueless as 14-year-old me.

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Doc Holliday from WYNONNA EARP

Written by Kelsey McConnell

I’m not much for dances myself. But a dance where have to be forward and ask somebody to go with me? Forget about it. However, when the man in question is fictional, it’s a little bit easier to put myself out there. And I’ve got my eye on WYNONNA EARP’s Doc Holliday.

Anyone who gets within five feet of me knows that I live and breathe the WYNONNA EARP television show and comics. For those unfamiliar with the franchise, it follows titular character Wynonna — the fictional descendant of the real-life gunslinging lawman, Wyatt Earp — as she sends demons back to Hell with her magic gun. Doc Holliday acts as Wynonna’s partner-in-justice, friend, and occasional lover. Doc is actually based off of the historical Doc Holliday, a legendary sharpshooter, dentist, and close friend to Wyatt Earp. However, the real-life Holliday didn’t have the beautiful likeness of actor Tim Rozon.

Sadie Hawkins dance
Image courtesy of IDW Publishing.

Doc Holliday does have worth beyond his supernaturally attractive mustache — and I’m not talking about that bitchin’ hat. Doc is an immortal cowboy via a deal with an uppity witch. He has a heart of gold. Is he prone to drinking, smoking, gambling, and whoring? Well, sure, but that just means he’s more likely to sneak whiskey into the dance, and that’s really all I ever ask for in a man. He’s got a wicked charm to flirt away the hours with. He has a devilish sense of humor, too, which makes me think he’s probably more fun to argue with than to engage in pleasant small talk. Is it really a dance if you don’t have a drunken public argument, anyway?

Underneath the swagger and biting wit of it all, Doc is a pretty good guy. He cares about his friends, and he blurs the line between reckless and brave when peoples’ safety comes in to question. Besides, he’s a gunslinger with no equal. If demons descend upon the crepe paper encrusted gymnasium, I know I’ll be safe from harm.

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Grue from DEAR CREATURE

Written by Molly Barnewitz

It should come as no surprise that I, a queer person who is not typically interested in men, would choose a sea monster to ask to the Sadie Hawkins dance. After all, mutants and animals frequently appear as symbols of queerness in comics. In any case, I have good taste in sea monsters. Grue, the amphibious hero of Jonathan Case’s DEAR CREATURE, would be a fantastic date to the Sadie Hawkins dance.

sadie hawkins dance
Image courtesy of Dark Horse Comics.

DEAR CREATURE is a daring 1960s retelling of ROMEO AND JULIET set in an oceanside town. Grue ambitiously woos the agoraphobic Giulietta and cultivates his humanity. Not only is he courteous and romantic (if somewhat slimy), he is also well-versed in Shakespeare’s plays. Grue speaks in iambic pentameter and could match wits with anyone at the dance. His repartee would entertain the whole party, especially those who appreciate puns and literary references.

Grue resembles the monster from CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, but his charismatic, smiley face has a certain charm. As a connoisseur of human culture, Grue would be fascinated by the Sadie Hawkins dance and would probably say, as they do in LOVE’S LABOUR’S LOST: “I will play/On the tabor to the Worthies, and let them dance the hay!” Although his large flippers might impede dancing, I am positive that Grue would give it a try.

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Jughead from Archie Comics

Written by Shareca Coleman

I can dance like it’s nobody’s business, so Sadie Hawkins is right up my alley. I get to show off my superior dance moves and take a cutie with me? Sign me up! Now, asking someone to the dance? I am not so good at — clammy hands, awkward stumbling, that’s me. However, if I were to ask a comic book character to be my date, it would have to be Forsythe “Jughead” Pendleton Jones III.

There are many, many reasons why I would take Jughead. I feel like asking him, for one, would be easy because he would just shrug (which is better than a rejection!) You know, Jughead is way too cool to say yes, so I would appreciate the gesture because he wouldn’t care either way. For two, I mean look at the kid? Look at Jughead Jones and tell me he wouldn’t be the most brooding, mysterious, aloof kid you ever took to a dance? He doesn’t talk much, he’s very “whatever” about everything, and he wears the same thing every day — no need to fret about an outfit! Plus, afterwards? Hamburgers. Without a doubt, you are going to Pop’s Diner after the dance to get a hamburger meal with extra fries. And, I am a gal that loves extra fries.

sadie hawkins dance
Image courtesy of Archie Comics.

I wouldn’t mind taking any generation of Jughead on a stroll into this marvelous dance, but I would prefer it to be the Chip Zdarsky, Erica Henderson/Derek Charm asexual Jughead Jones. This Jughead first appeared in JUGHEAD #1 in 2015, one of the better days I can remember in comic book history. Since then, he has been one of my favorite Jugheads ever (not including RIVERDALE’s handsome Cole Sprouse). It was love at first sight, you could say.

Jug would probably be very indifferent about the whole dance. I would force him to dance, but he wouldn’t like it — but I feel like he would still do it because he liked me. I feel like I would bring out his extroverted side because I am very bubbly and talkative. Everyone would be shocked because Jughead never says more than two words at best. At the end of the night, I would like to believe he would enjoy himself and appreciate me for taking him. I mean, he was just going to play video games instead, so I saved his night from being lame. Although he would complain about it the entire time, he would thank me with a smooch (I would like to think).

Jughead Jones would be the perfect person to go to the dance with. He loves hamburgers, he wears a damn cool beanie, and he wears ripped jeans…need I say more?

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Finn from STAR WARS ADVENTURES

Written by Morgan Slade

While normally I, as a trans man, am very critical of the Sadie Hawkins dance, I am very excited at the prospect of asking out fictional characters. There were many cool dudes I have considered, but it’s gotta be Finn from the STAR WARS franchise. He may not technically be an original comic character, but considering all his comic book appearances, such as STAR WARS ADVENTURES and STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS Parts I-VI, I’m pretty sure he counts.

sadie hawkins dance
Image courtesy of IDW Publishing.

Finn is definitely one of the most fleshed-out STAR WARS characters, in my opinion. From childhood, he was kidnapped and forced into life as a Stormtrooper. But after escaping with prisoner Poe Dameron, Finn finally finds himself free and supported by friends. He spends most of THE FORCE AWAKENS adjusting to this dramatic shift in his life. He’s heavily coded as having PTSD, if the hyperventilating and constant need to hold hands is anything to go by. As someone who also struggles with PTSD and anxiety, I would love to go to Sadie Hawkins with a guy who just gets it, you know? Plus, the man is gorgeous. I don’t know what Finn’s outfit to the dance would be, but he would look amazing regardless.

Another big reason for choosing Finn is that he does not get nearly the amount of love that he deserves, either from the fandom or in the official merch. While your man-crush-Monday Kylo Ren will smash everything in the Dominos parking lot with his fancy lightsaber because he wanted Pizza Hut, Finn and I would have a deep discussion about radical empathy, mental health activism, and respecting women. I know who I’m choosing for a great night out.

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So what comic book character would you ask to the Sadie Hawkins dance? Let us know in the comments below!

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