On This Day, June 3

On June 3, 1956, Santa Cruz (CA) city authorities announced a total ban on rock and roll at public gatherings, calling the music “Detrimental to both the health and morals of our youth and community.”  It was a dance party the previous evening that led to this reaction. Some 200 teenagers had packed the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium on a Saturday night to dance to the music of Chuck Higgins and his Orchestra, a Los Angeles group with a regional hit record called “Pachuko Hop.” Santa Cruz police entered the auditorium just past midnight to check on the event.  According to Lieutenant Richard Overton, the crowd was  “engaged in suggestive, stimulating and tantalizing motions induced by the provocative rhythms of an all-negro band.”.  Overton immediately shut the dance down and sent the disappointed teenagers home early.  Santa Cruz was not alone in responding this way. Just two weeks later in its June 18, 1956 issue, Time magazine reported on similar bans recently enacted in Asbury Park, New Jersey, and in San Antonio, Texas, where the city council’s fear of “undesirable elements” echoed the not-so-thinly-veiled concerns of Santa Cruz authorities over the racially integrated nature of the event that prompted the rock-and-roll ban issued on this day in 1956. Bop till you drop at the library, on hoopla and in Freegal.  Search these resources for specific artists of the period.

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