Dave "Happy" New Year

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Promotional photo

David Miles Neujahr
15 Mar 1931 - 14 Oct 1993

Clubs & Associations

New Year Resolutions

Quick Facts

In Their Own Words

I, Dave New Year, nick name 'Happy', in 1982 at the Reno Rodeo, was thrilled to see some Square Dance Singing Calls started. Saturday evening just before the band was due to play, Skip Barrett gave me a chance to call a short tip and this opened a whole new world for me. The Square Dancers all came up to ma asking for more, so we set up my calling equipment under the lights outside by the bleachers and danced on the asphalt until after midnight. From this I was invited and flown to Denver's "Mile High Squares", San Francisco's "Western Star Dancers", and Sacramento's "Capital City Squares" to call for them. All groups treated me like Royalty and it was wonderful.
I came home from Reno that year with high hopes of promoting Gay Square Dancing in Southern California. In Palm Springs at this Western Bar, many guys were asking for Square Dancing since seeing us at the Rodeo. The owner asked me to teach on Sunday nights. I started the class even though is is a 2 hour drive each way from my house. I then started a class in Long Beach and Orange County.
In 1983, at Reno Rodeo, I was thrilled to be one of the featured callers. I now had Southern California represented by 5 Squares of my dancers plus more non-dancers along to watch us. 2 Squares were female which I think encouraged the non-dancing girls at the Rodeo to be more interested in taking lessons with the guys since there are more guys in Square Dancing that are girls.
Pioneering Gay Square Dancing in Southern California has been a time consuming challenge for myself to tackle since I work a full time day job. I have fine nights a week I teach. To my knowledge, I'm the only Gay Square Dance Caller in Southern California.
Because of starting at the Sundance Saloon in Palm Springs, we took on the name of 'Sundancers'. This group is now a club and I am their club caller. Also in Palm Springs, we have the "New Year Resolutions" group and also in Orange County and Long Beach. I have a co-ordinator in three areas:

Patti Newhouse and Betty Teager in Orange County (48 members)
Tim Slaattel in Long Beach (40 members)
Paul Whitehouse in Palm Springs (32 members)

All the groups exchange dances with each other. Because of high rental of halls, and also if they'd accept a gay group, each group dances in a Gay Bar and lessons are $2.00 per person. The bar than pays me later to teach Country Dancing the rest of the evening in which I also give the Square Dancers an opportunity of performing.
One more thing I'll mention is, I realize groups learning to "records" that this is impossible, but in my groups the men do not wish to be called ladies and the ladies called men. A square is made up of 4 couples. Leader on the left and pardner on the right. Of course always to the left of the leader is the corner. Leader replaces straight term man and pardner replaces straight term lady. I hope some day to make straight groups drip the Sex Gender terms just like chairman is now chairperson, mailman is now postperson, etc. 3 calls have work pardner in them which can be changed such as California twirl is with hands, California trade without hands (instead of pardner trade)
In summary, we are 3 non-profit caller organized groups with a co-ordinator appointed for each group. Teaching Mainstream according to CALLERLAB for diploma and plan on dancing Mainstream for a year before moving to Plus. As a Group we decided the fun things to do besides Square Dancing such as Camp-outs, Pot-lucks, etc.
See Ya in a Square.[1]

Golden Boot Award

In 1986, South Florida Mustangs presented Happy with the Golden Boot Award.
In 1987, Happy presented the award to Scott Carey.


Memorial services were held Tuesday, Oct. 19, for one of our community's best known country and square dance instructors, David Miles "Happy" Neujahr (New Year).

Happy was born March 15, 1931, in Surprise, Neb. He came to California and settled in Buena Park in 1952. He remained a resident of OC until earlier this year when he moved to the Palm Springs area.

Happy was a dance instructor in many of Southern California's country/western clubs, including C.C. Construction Co. in Palm Springs. Floyds in Long Beach, and here in Orange County at The Huntress in Midway City. "His ability to motivate people through dancing is what he'll be remembered for," said Rich Weaver, a close friend.

He was also known not only in OC but throughout the US in both straight and gay square dancing circle. "He loved square dancing: that was his life," his daughter Helen said. Happy was instrumental in the formation of several of the Southern California gay square dance clubs including three which are still in existence: Finest City Squares in San Diego, Tinseltown Squares in Los Angeles, and Golden State Squares in Orange County.

Happy was diagnosed as HIV+ in 1986. Three infections, one in his brain and two in his spinal cord were deemed to be the result of HIV infection and ultimately caused respiratory failure leading to his death. His former wife of 10 years, Charlene, his daughter Helen, and his son Mark were at his bedside when he died.

He is also survived by his daughter, Barbara; son, Happy Jr., and eight grandchildren, as well as a great number of friends. Happy also leaves behind him a great legacy, as the man who made people dance.

We long you Happy New Year; you will long be remembered.[2]


New Year Greeting Would Bring Boy
LOS ANGELES—AP—Anyone who shouts Happy New Year within earshot of 2 year old Happy Neujahr is likely to see him come on the run, even on July 4th.

His last name is pronounced "new year," says the boy's father, David Neujahr, an aviation electrician.

Even the Neujahr birthplace is something of a surprise—Surprise, Neb.[3]

by Karl Jaeckel
October 14, 1993 marked the loss of an early pioneer of the gay square dance movement, Dave (Happy} New Year. A graduate of the Bob Van Antwerp School of Calling, Happy arrived on the scene at the National Gay Rodeo in Reno, August 1982, with the willingness/determination to introduce gay dancers to the Callerlab format of square dancing. Because Happy was not included on the program (event organizers did not know him), he led a troop of dancers to an area outside the crowded dance barn and behind a wire mesh fence lo set up an impromptu dance. Experienced dancers knew for the first lime that with Happy they had the support of a knowledgeable, capable Callerlab-trained caller. From that moment, many would remember him as the first caller lo accept lesbians and gays in squares and to encourage their interest in square dancing. Soon after the Reno event, members of Mile High Squares, Denver, arranged lo fly Happy lo Colorado to call an invitational weekend. That weekend, November 12-14, 1982, is now widely remembered as the first gay square dance fly-in. Happy used his influence in Southern California, his home turf, to lead the development of 3 gay square dance clubs, all known as New Year Resolu1ions: one in West Hollywood, one in Orange County, and one in Palm Springs. On numerous occasions he called for the Bay area clubs, and twice he called at IAGSDC™ conventions: All Join Hands, Seattle '84 and Promenade Along the Rockies, Denver '85. Many will tell that Happy's forte was in calling "one-nighters" — he took care that beginners had fun. In 1986 in San Francisco, he received the prestigious Golden Boot Award from the South Florida Mustangs. Although we haven't seen Happy in recent years, he certainly is worthy of a special place in the history of the activity that we enjoy.[4]

Memorial Panel

  • 1UR | New Year Resolutions



  1. IAGSDC Convention Program (Seattle), 1984
  2. The Blade (Los Angeles, CA) Dec 1993, p.41
  3. The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, CA) Monday, 31 Dec 1956, p.A-10
  4. IAGSDC Newsletter v.3 no.2 (Jan 1994), p.7