Jimmy Clossin, 1961

Bob Osgood's text as it appeared in
Sets in Order / Square Dancing magazine

Jimmy Clossin
If ever there were a prototype of the traditional cowboy figure who rode miles to attend a square dance then returned home in the early morning hours – sleeping in the saddle so that he could be ready for the next day’s work – that person might well be our cover man, Jimmy Clossin.

Like so many of the old-timers, Jimmy was never taught to square dance or call, he just took to it as naturally as walking or eating. Looking back to the early 1900s he recalls doing the dancing and calling as a boy.

As a young man Jimmy wrote the range along the New Mexico–Texas border and up in the Panhandle country putting famous brands on many a maverick. When he had the opportunity he traveled around the western sections of our country looking for square dances wherever he could find them and constantly adding to his knowledge of the activity.

During the years between 1910 and 1914 he made several trips into Mexico with ranchers and cattlemen. Going as far south as Guadalajara he was quite amazed to find quadrilles flourishing and he had the opportunity to dance many varieties at the ranches and towns where he stayed.

Piecing bits of information together Jimmy developed the theory that a number of our square dances came from Spain by way of Mexico. “Mexico,” Jimmy wrote at one time, “was and possibly still is the most prominent in the old quadrilles, both single and double, of any place on the North American continent.”

After serving in World War I Jimmy returned to his range activities and began devoting more and more time to square dancing. Finally in 1935 he became a full-time caller and teacher and traveled from San Diego to areas in the Eastern states where he helped to develop the Western style of square dancing, teaching classes, serving on institute staffs and encouraging new callers.

In 1948 he co-authored [with Carl Hertzog] West Texas Cowboy Square Dances, “a collection of Hoe-downs, Quadrilles and Chatter” gathered during his travels. The book has proven extremely valuable as a text and research manual for callers and dancers across the country.

A few years ago Jimmy and his wife Elizabeth moved from Texas to Orlando, Florida, where they have become intensely interested in providing square dancing for school children. While working with the younger generation, perhaps Jimmy will be able to perpetuate this valuable background of a dancing America. Indeed no one is better qualified through experience to start our dancers of the future in the proper direction.

To our friend, Jimmy Clossin, we respectfully tip our Stetson in admiration and dedicate this issue of Sets in Order to him.

(Sets in Order, May, 1961)

Milestone Award Citation

If you know of any audio files of Clossin calling, please contact the Square Dance History Project.

Additional Photos