San Francisco World Fair 1894

California Midwinter
International Exposition of 1894:
San Francisco World Fair

Dance History Snacks with Dawn Devine

Many dancers are familiar with the Chicago World Fair of 1893. It was a pivotal moment in the flow of dance history. When the United States became aware of the belly dance.  After the Chicago Midway closed down, several groups of entertainers made their way to San Francisco. These acts appeared at the California Midwinter International Exhibition of 1894.

This fair ran from January 27 to July 5 in Golden Gate Park. This fair was the brain-child of Michael DeYoung, a San Francisco-based newspaperman who founded The San Francisco Chronicle.  DeYoung served as a national commissioner for the Chicago World Fair and decided to host a smaller, but no less exciting version the following year.

Belly Dancers in San Francisco 1894

Although often overlooked by historians of dance, this San Francisco World’s Fair hosted many cultural dancers who took the opportunity to stay in the US following the close of the Chicago Fair.

My current archival research project focuses on the dancers at this exhibition.  Throughout the coming months, I’ll be making trips 35 miles north to San Francisco to explore the collections of the San Francisco Historical Society archives and the California Reading Room at the San Francisco Main Library.

Crave More Than A Snack?
Monthly History Talks on Patreon

If you’re interested in taking deep dives into dance history, come join me over on Patreon where I host slide-talks that cover a wide variety of belly dance-related history subjects.  Each month, I upload a 30-60 minute dance history talk.

  • October 2023: Recent Research – Photos From the ArchivesNow Available
  • November 2023: Behind the Scenes – Putting together “Historian’s Tool Box”Coming soon.

New belly dance history presentations are uploaded during the last week of the month. Get notified by following me on Patreon or subscribing to the free Studio Davina Mini-Magazine.

Thanks for joining me for this “Dance History Snack,”
Dawn Devine ~ Davina
Nov. 2023


By Davina

Davina ~ Dawn Devine is a belly dance costume designer, dance instructor and author of more than a dozen publications on Middle Eastern dance.