The Harvest Moon Ball
was supposedly for "Amateurs" only (it was
up to the contestants to police for pro's.) The Ball
was held usually on a Tuesday or Wednesday in August or
September and was sponsored by the Daily News in New York
and Los Angeles (News Welfare Association, Inc.)
The first unofficial contest was held
at the Central Park Mall in 1927, but to the surprise of
the organizers over 75,000 people showed up to watch the
contest, all contests in the future were to be postponed
in the name of public safety until Madison Square Garden
could be obtained. They tried again in 1934 and this time
the contest was officially shut down by then Mayor La Guardia.
The first official start date was in 1935 at Madison Square
Garden in New York and would last untill 1980, from 1980
it was sponsored by individuals who were past HMB Winners
with the last HMB in 1984.
Starting in August, prelims would be run in many different
clubs and ballrooms thru-out the city such as the Savoy
Ballroom and later the Savoy Manor, plus the famous
Ballroom in New York. The prelims had a total of three
judges, while the finals had five.
There were six divisions
one could enter, some years would offer different dance
divisions such as Conga, Lindy
and Roll, Polka,
Shag, Serviceman's Division, Viennese
Waltz and even the Hustle.
Plus at the end of the contest the judges would pick an
"All 'Round Champion" to award additional prizes
This contest was to become
the most famous dance contest in the world and would last
for many years. The official song of the contest was "Shine
On, Harvest Moon." The music was supplied by first
class musicians such as Artie Shaw, Nan Rodrigo, Machito,
Benny Goodman etc.
Ed Sullivan was the emcee for most of these earlier contests.
As time progressed and the popularity of the contests grew,
there would be other locations such as in Chicago, and Los
Angeles besides the coveted Madison Square Garden location.
There was a Harvest Moon Ball in Illinois but is reported
to be no connection.