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Dapper Dans

Dapper Dans

The Dapper Dans first started when Disneyland's Tommy Walker contacted Park talent supervisor Chuck Corson and said that Disneyland needed a barbershop quartet. Corson (a former Stage Manager for the Fred Waring Chorale) contacted some of the singers from that group, and they came to Disneyland at his request. They began performing on Main Street, and after several changes the first long-running Dapper Dans quartet was formed. It consisted of John Borneman (tenor), Roger Axworthy (lead), T.J. Marker (bass) and Ted Nichols (baritone). This group worked together for years, and established the Disneyland Dapper Dans tradition. Later members were often recruited from nearby Chapman College, where an active music department groomed students to come to Disneyland as professional musicians.

TThe Dapper Dans actually rival the Golden Horseshoe Revue in their longevity at Disneyland. Other Disneyland musical groups (like the Disneyland Band or the Make Believe Brass) consist of "cast members," but the Dapper Dans have always created their own material, organized themselves and had more autonomy. The quartet has done many outside gigs and has toured Sweden twice, Australia once. They're full-time now, but they've worked part-time, weekends only, and have even been at times on hiatus from the park. One of their strengths has been flexibility. As live entertainment at Disneyland evolved, they have adapted and appeared as Danny and the Dappers (for the 1987/88 Blast to the Past), they've sung sea chanteys as the Jolly Tars, cowboy music as the Cowboy Buckaroos and become the scary Monster Shop Quartet during the Halloween Treat events.

TThe current leader of the Dapper Dans is lead singer Shelby Grimm. He has been with the quartet since 1987, and is now the keeper of the group's music library and other historic material. He told us that their custom Schwinn four-seater was ordered especially for the Dapper Dans by Walt Disney.

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