Same as a Tolo dance.
Who was Sadie Hawkins, and why did she get a dance named after her? --Michael Witry
SDSTAFF Dex replies:
Sadie Hawkins' fame is not really from the dance, but from the race. She was a creation of cartoonist Al Capp in his strip Li'l Abner, set in the hillbilly town of Dogpatch, which started in 1934. Sadie first appeared in the daily strips of November 15-30, 1937. After a brief build-up, "What is Sadie Hawkins Day? Why does it inspire such terror in our Hero?" the strip explains:
Sadie Hawkins was the daughter of one of the earliest settlers of Dogpatch, Hekzebiah Hawkins. She was the homeliest gal in all them hills. . . . For 15 years, [she] had failed to catch a husband. Her pappy, in desperation, one day called together all the eligible bachelors of Dogpatch."
He declared Sadie Hawkins Day. A starting gun is fired, to give the boys a head start, then a second gun is fired, and, as her father says, when Sadie "starts a-runnin', th'one she ketches'll be her husband."
Sadie did catch one of the boys. The other spinsters of Dogpatch reckoned it were such a good idea that Sadie Hawkins Day was made an annual affair.
For Al Capp, this was a plot device in the ongoing romance between Daisy Mae and Li'l Abner. More or less each year, the Sadie Hawkins' Day Race took the form of Abner hearing a prediction (usually pretty confusing) about the outcome; Abner puzzling about it for a while, trying to outwit it, and then the prediction coming true in an unforeseen, twisty way. Eventually, of course, Capp did allow Abner and Daisy to marry.
The dance came about a bit later. The Sadie Hawkins Day dance was on the night before the race. The girls wore hob-nailed boots to trample on the feet of the bachelors, to impede (heh) their running the next day.