Louis Armstrong

Sashaying to Satchmo

Stanford students’ penchant for social dancing and jazz music co-mingled in the ASSU-sponsored Louis Armstrong Dance. As observed by the Head of Student Police, “the people that attended certainly enjoyed themselves as King Louis proved himself to be a master showman.” Indeed, the sheer popularity of these dances occasionally inspired the antics of interlopers. Walter Varellas, the Head Student Cop reporting on ASSU’s Benny Goodman Dance two years earlier, recounts how “three sailors got into the dance through a door in the front of the building (lobby side) which was opened for them by a gal. That door was the only one not watched over, the reason being that two police were at the front door nearby. As soon as the front door police saw them enter we caught them and gave them the boot.”

Student dance, 1940 or 1941. Stanford Historical Photograph Collection

Featured image: Louis Armstrong in performance, 1953