History

                                                                                        ...dancing throughout the 1920's

            Many historical things occurred during the 1920s that affected dance and the arts in general.  The 19th amendment was passed giving women more freedom; technology grew a lot and created many new fads including dance competitions, and much more.  The ‘20s was an excellent period for all of the arts and literature in many different ways.

            In the ‘20s women were given a lot more rights, greatly affecting dance and the arts.  The 19th amendment gave women the right to vote, allowing them to have a voice in the government.  This had a large impact on dance because since women had voting rights they were allowed to do more things creatively with dance without much criticism.  Also, improvements were made in every aspect of life for women, not just the arts.

            During the ‘20s there were many fads that grew popular because of new technology and techniques that were discovered.  Dance marathons became extremely popular during the 1920s-30s because of the Depression.  The general rule was you could not fall asleep while several contests allowed one part of the team to sleep so long as the other part of the team kept in contact and/or moving.  As time in the contest continued, resting times would continue to decrease until there were no rests at all (exact times varied).  The longest running dance marathon lasted for 22 weeks and 3 ˝ days.  Some dancers would do many things to help them continue, one ladies success was due to “Pickling her feet” before the contests (yes just like making pickles.)  Some marathons would allow you to switch partners with another contestant within a certain time period if your partner dropped out or quit, fell asleep etc.  Dance marathons were eventually outlawed (called Blue Laws) in most states due to the unhealthy condition they would put the contestants in.  In fact, some people actually died in the competition!  The radio also became extremely popular during this period.  Because of this new popularity in music, naturally, many dance moves just caught on including the Charleston, the Shimmy, the Black Bottom, the Fox Trot, and many more.

            Many saw the Charleston and Flappers as the downfall to many moral issues of the day.  In 1925, Variety Magazine reported that in Boston, the vibrations of Charleston dancers were so strong that the dancers caused the “Pickwick Club” (a tenderloin dance hall) to collapse, killing fifty of its patrons.

            At this time everything was going great for the arts until 1929 came along with the surprise of the Stock Market Crash.  This terrible event then led to the beginning of the Great Depression.  Banks closed and people became very poor, greatly reducing the amount of money spent in the arts.  After 1929 the arts were drained of many of their funds because people simply didn’t have the money to go see dances and theatrical productions.  People were much more concerned about food and water for their families than they were about seeing a musical or dance production.  This continued for many more years.

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