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Dancing in the English StyleConsumption, Americanisation and National Identity in Britain, 1918-50$
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Allison Abra

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781784994334

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781784994334.001.0001

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Dancing mad! The modernisation of popular dance

Dancing mad! The modernisation of popular dance

(p.19) 1 Dancing mad! The modernisation of popular dance
Dancing in the English Style

Allison Abra

Manchester University Press

This chapter traces the early development of modern ballroom dancing in Britain, from its origins in the ragtime era prior to the First World War through the dance craze that came with the peace. It provides a history for the major dances that would predominate in Britain from the 1920s through the 1950s, particularly the so-called ‘standard four’ – the foxtrot, the modern waltz, the tango, and the one-step. The chapter also examines the social and cultural response to the new dances in Britain – particularly their perceived modernity – which was celebrated by some, but condemned by others. It explores controversies that surrounded popular dance, and the active defence mounted by its proponents, who touted dancing’s value for the cultivation of good health and beauty, among numerous other advantages.

Keywords:   Ragtime, Modernity, Dance craze, Tango, Foxtrot, Jazz, Health

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