Contra dancing was first brought to Houston in the late 1970s by Dorcas Hand and her husband Barry Cooper. Dances were held in whatever space they could find, including driveways!
The dance series that eventually became HATDS was started by Mike Head in 1986 at the Heights Woman's Club building on Harvard Street. Cheryl Cleary (now Patterson) worked the door and several volunteers help move tables and chairs. Barry Cooper's band, Resurrection Avenue String Band, and a pickup band started by Mike called Jaded Tunes Pickup Band played for the early dances. Mike, Keith Holmes, and Liz Benjamin were the initial callers.
In 1989 Mike turned over the many producer's chores to a group of eager volunteers. That group, known simply as “The Committee”, gave the new organization its name, started a monthly newsletter (the first issue was published in August of '89), and held the first Holiday Ball that December.
About that time the series outgrew the small Woman's Club building and moved to a larger venue at Central Congregational Church (now First Lutheran Church).
It was soon decided that non-profit status and incorporation had real advantages. Led by dancer, attorney, and CPA Jerry Sokolow, HATDS filed an application for non-profit status with the IRS and Articles of Incorporation and bylaws with the state. Our efforts culminated when the Texas Secretary of State recognized HATDS as a non-profit corporation on September 14, 1990.
Although HATDS as an organization dates from the summer of 1989, we use 9/14/1990 as the official birthday since full legal standing was attained on that date.
In September 2020, HATDS celebrated 30 years as a legal entity. Visit the HATDS 30th page for details and a slideshow from that celebration.