life and times
hiram who
birth of the auto
border cities
sports heritage

Dirty Dancing

by Stan Scisloswki

Would you believe it? Back in the early 1800s when the waltz first came out, it was known as the “dirty dancing” of the age? Though the older people denounced and reviled it as another form of depravity, the young folk took to it heart and soul, as youth have always taken to anything new and exciting.

In the papers, in the pulpits, in the schools there poured forth rivers of complaints pointing out the lewdness of the dancers‚ bodies being frequently tight up against each other as they whirled and glided across the dance-floor. Not only were there fierce objections over the too-closeness, the prudes of the day didn’t like the spins and the movements which they said, “intoxicated the brain” and that the dancing surely would lead to sin and degradation. Even the great lover and poet, Byron himself looked down with disfavour on this new dance. He wrote a poem to vent his hostility:

Hot from the hands promiscuously applied,
The breast thus publicly resigned to man
Round the slight waist or down the glowing side,
In private may resist him, if it can.

Even when the waltz inevitably was exported to North America, it was scorned as a scandalous way of dancing, and one paper went so far as to say, “We feel it is our duty to warn every parent against exposing their daughter to so fatal a contagion.” This beautiful dance was subjected to poor reception and treatment in America for nigh on fifty years. Parents forbade their children to dance it, waltz instrumental music was outlawed and those who succumbed to the beauty and gracefulness of the waltz did it behind closed doors or suffered the consequences of verbal abuse.

But despite all this, the waltz survived and eventually became popular thanks to wiser heads and the fact that those who hated this so-called ‘decadent dance of the devil’ had either died off or were too old to maintain their outrageous views on it.

But just as likely, another “dirty dance” the Tango, had come along to replace it.



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