Golden Boot Award

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The oritinal plaque with the names of the first 30 recipients of the Golden Boot. The plaque was donated by Betsy Gotta in 2002.
The second plaque, donated by Phil Davis in 2014.
Karl Jaeckel, the official IAGSDC Historian, with the original Golden Boot plaque.

The Golden Boot is awarded each year to a person or group in our community that has made significant and sustained contributions to the LGBTQ* square dance community.

Few moments at the annual IAGSDC convention are more dramatic than the presentation of the Golden Boot Award. Carefully chosen by the past year's recipient, each awardee has advanced LGBTQ* square dancing in ways that have earned our community's recognition, respect, and gratitude. Past recipients have described an overwhelming flood of emotions when their names were announced. Most also tell of a difficult and sometimes painful process of picking their successor.

Anyone who has attended a convention knows the significance of the Golden Boot Award. Some can even recall each year's recipient. So with all of its honor, prestige, and recognition, it may be easy to forget the award's humble origin.

Origin of the Golden Boot Award

On May 1st, 1983 Art Smith was presented with the first Golden Boot Award at Puddletown Squares' graduation ceremony. As founder of the club, Art received a gilded trophy worth its weight in glue and spray paint. The award was designed by George Gosselin, crafted from a used western boot that had been sprayed gold and embellished with gold chains and rhinestones. What it lacked in charm and sophistication, it made up in feeling. (The other half of that pair of boots became part of the crown for the Honky Tonk Queen.)

After the first convention in 1984, Art was so moved by the spirit of the event that he decided his Golden Boot Award should be passed on to future generations. After receiving green lights from Puddletown Dancers and the president of the IAGSDC, Art prepared to pass on his award at the 1985 convention. At Denver, Art presented an engraved plaque to gay and lesbian square dancing's first club, the South Florida Mustangs.

Each year since 1985, recipients have been announced at the annual IAGSDC convention. It is an honored tradition that the person or group that receives the award selects the next recipient. The selection is kept secret until presentation at convention, and at that time an appropriate token (gift of acknowledgment) is given, along with a golden boot dangle.

The dangles were initially provided by Freeman Stamper, who eventually handed off Golden Boot duties to Andy Shore, the present Golden Boot Stepmother.

In the words of Art Smith:

"The spirit of the Golden Boot Award belongs to everyone. For it is all of us contributing together, sharing our energy, our dedication and most of all our love that is truly the spirit that is honored. When any one of us gives 100% of the best of what and who we are, that is the finest example of the essence of what the Golden Boot Award exemplifies."

Selection Process

The Golden Boot Award is not an official IAGSDC award, but instead is a tradition of recognition handed down each year from one recipient to the next. There are no fixed criteria for selecting the next recipient, but factors include longevity in the activity and the IAGSDC, contribution and dedication to the IAGSDC, member clubs, and square dancing as a whole. Freeman "Steffany" Stamper wrote:

"Making the decision about the next recipient is very difficult.You have to work through your personal grief that you cannot recognize many people-you must choose "one." You must sort through all the politics surrounding your considerations and make a decision with unswerving determination. You must spend many waking hours ruminating and toiling with your emotions. You will have moments of regret and moments of feeling overwhelming demands. You will eventually come to peace with yourself and your decision, sleep will come, and you will focus on only the one person. That, then, is the right person."

List of Golden Boot Award Recipients

Recipient Year City Convention Notes
Art Smith 1983 Seattle Puddletown Dancers
(none) 1984 no award given
South Florida Mustangs 1985 Denver Promenade Along The Rockies notes
Dave "Happy" New Year 1986 San Francisco Star Thru The Golden Gate
Scott Carey 1987 Portland Explode The Rose
Ken Pollack 1988 Phoenix Cross Trails In The Desert
Freeman Stamper 1989 New York Peel The Apple presentation
Karl Jaeckel 1990 Vancouver Northstar Promenade presentation
Harlan Kerr 1991 Miami Cast A Shadow In The Sun presentation
Keith Snowdon 1992 Albuquerque Diamonds In The Desert presentation
Anna Damiani, Stan Boyden, Bill St. John 1993 Seattle Remake The Circle presentation
Luis Torres, Bill Eyler 1994 Washington, DC Stars & Squares Forever presentation
Anne Uebelacker 1995 Chicago Track II Chicago presentation
Carol Van Camp 1996 San Francisco Stars, Thars & Cable Cars presentation
Kris Jensen 1997 Las Vegas Wheel & Deal presentation
Mike Staples, Ric Gonzalez 1998 Portland Weave The Rose presentation
Paul Waters 1999 Los Angeles Lights, Camera, Linear Action presentation
Darrell Ertzberger 2000 Baltimore Crack The Crab presentation
Betsy Gotta 2001 Vancouver Make Magic presentation
Andy Shore 2002 Toronto Cloverleafs & Maple Leafs presentation
Rick Hawes 2003 San Diego Anchors Aweigh With a Half-Sashay presentation
Ett McAtee 2004 Phoenix Remake The Heatwave presentation
Seth Levine 2005 Santa Clara Star Thru The Silicon Galaxy presentation
All Join Hands Foundation 2006 Anaheim Wish Upon A Thar presentation
Scott Philips 2007 Denver Red Rocks and Purple Mountains presentation
John Mckinstry 2008 Cleveland Touch A Quarter Century presentation
Bob Young 2009 Washington, DC DC Diamond Circulate presentation
John Faulds 2010 Chicago Chi-Town Shakedown presentation
Mary Jane Wood 2011 Atlanta Gone With The Windmill presentation
Sandie Bryant 2012 Vancouver Dance Up A Storm presentation
JW Paulson 2013 San Francisco Weave Your Heart in San Francisco presentation
Phil Davis 2014 Salt Lake City Squeeze the Hive presentation
John O'Grady and Leo Champagne 2015 St. Louis Swing Me in St. Louis presentation
Keith Gehrig 2016 Toronto Maple Leafs Regroup presentation
Justin Crawshaw-Lopton and Ross Crawshaw-Lopton 2017 Palm Springs Palm Springs Swing & Mix 2017 presentation
Barry Clasper and Pam Clasper 2018 Seattle Circle Back to Seattle presentation
Allan Hurst 2019 Philadelphia Belles Run Philadelphia 2019 presentation
(none) 2020 Denver (Cancelled) Take A Peak no award given
(none) 2021 Houston (Cancelled) Houston, We Have a Promenade no award given
Vic Ceder, Debbie Ceder, and Caitlyn Ceder 2022 Minneapolis Twin City Spin presentation
James Ozanich 2023 Ottawa Follow Your Northern Neighbour presentation


Group Photos

See also:

Article about the Golden Boot Award written by Bonnie Abramson in USDA News Jul-Sep 2022, page 18


Original Sources: SquareUp! issue 8 - citing input from 1990 Northstar Promenade convention program, with additional contributions by Karl Jaeckel and Freeman Stamper.