The Wicked Waltz and Other Scandalous Dances

Outrage at Couple Dancing in the 19th and Early 20th Centuries


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About the Book

The waltz, perhaps the most beloved social dance of the 19th and early 20th centuries, once provoked outrage from religious leaders and other self-appointed arbiters of social morality. Decrying the corrupting influence of social dancing, they failed to suppress the popularity of the waltz or other dance crazes of the period, including the Charleston, the tango, and “animal dances” such as the Turkey Trot, Grizzly Bear, and Bunny Hug.
This book investigates the development of these popular dances, considering in particular how their very existence as “taboo” cultural fads ultimately provided a catalyst for lasting social reform. In addition to examining the impact of the waltz and other scandalous dances on fashion, music, leisure, and social reform, the text describes the opposition to dance and the proliferation of literature on both sides.

About the Author(s)

Mark Knowles, choreographer of more than 300 theatrical productions, is on the faculty of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Los Angeles, California.

Bibliographic Details

Mark Knowles
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 272
Bibliographic Info: 63 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2009
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3708-5
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5360-3
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii

Preface      1

1. Overview of Anti-Dance Sentiment      3

Part I. The Waltz

2. Origins of the Waltz      17

3. Development and Dispersion of the Waltz      26

4. Fashion and Music of the Waltz      41

5. Reaction to the Waltz      51

Part II. The Animal Dances

6. Origins of the Animal Dances      61

7. Development and Dispersion of the Animal Dances      67

8. Fashion and Music of the Animal Dances      82

9. Reaction to the Animal Dances      91

Part III. The Tango

10. Origins of the Tango      105

11. Development and Dispersion of the Tango      111

12. Fashion and Music of the Tango      118

13. Reaction to the Tango      124

Part IV. The Charleston

14. Origins of the Charleston      135

15. Development and Dispersion of the Charleston      142

16. Fashion and Music of the Charleston      154

17. Reaction to the Charleston      166

18. Harmony and Disharmony      177

Chapter Notes      185

Bibliography      245

Index      259

Book Reviews & Awards

“meticulously researched…scholarly yet entertaining…recommended”—Library Journal; “wonderful illustrations and photographs enhance the book…recommended”—Choice.