Golden Boot Award
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 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.
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."
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
front row: Freeman Stamper, Seth Levine, Rick Hawes, Andy Shore
middle row: Gary Dougan, Scott Carey, Kris Jensen, Anna Damiani, Anne Uebelacker, Harlan Kerr, Ett McAtee, Bob Young, Betsy Gotta, Carol Van Camp, Gordon Macaw
back row: Randy Clarke (hat), JW Paulson, John Faulds, Bill Eyler, Karl Jaeckel, Scott Philips, John Mckinstry
standing: Scott Philips, Keith Gehrig, Leo Champagne, John O'Grady, John Mckinstry, JW Paulson, Phil Davis
middle: Andy Shore, Seth Levine, Sandie Bryant, Harlan Kerr, Randy Clarke
front: Bill Eyler, Anne Uebelacker, Kris Jensen, Betsy Gotta, Rick Hawes, Gary Dougan
at Palm Springs Swing & Mix 2017
Top Row: Ken Di Genova (South Florida Mustangs 1985), Scott Carey (1987), Karl Jaeckel (1990), Harlan Kerr (1991), Anne Uebelacker (1995), Carol Roberts (1996), Kris Jensen (1997), Betsy Gotta (2001), Andy Shore (2002), Rick Hawes (2003)
Front Row: John Faulds (2010), Mary Jane Wood (2011), Sandie Bryant (2012), Art Smith (1983), JW Paulson (2013), Phil Davis (2014), Keith Gehrig (2016), Justin Crawshaw-Lopton & Ross Crawshaw-Lopton (2017)
Middle Row (r to l): Seth Levine (2005), Gary Dougan & Gordon Macaw (All Join Hands Foundation 2006), John Faulds (2010), Scott Philips (2007), John Mckinstry (2008), Mary Jane Wood (2011), Sandie Bryant (2012)
Back Row (l to r): JW Paulson (2013), Phil Davis (2014), Leo Champagne & John O'Grady (2015), Keith Gehrig (2016) Justin Crawshaw-Lopton & Ross Crawshaw-Lopton (2017), Pam Clasper & Barry Clasper (2018)
(Betsy Gotta (2001) attended convention but was unable to be present for the photograph.)