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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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The dance evil: gender, sexuality and the representation of popular dance

The dance evil: gender, sexuality and the representation of popular dance

Chapter:
(p.106) 4 The dance evil: gender, sexuality and the representation of popular dance
Source:
Dancing in the English Style
Author(s):

Allison Abra

Publisher:
Manchester University Press
DOI:10.7228/manchester/9781784994334.003.0005

This chapter explores how the social perception and cultural representation of dancing – especially its chief enthusiasts, professionals, and the public venues where it took place – were shaped by contemporary anxieties about gender, class, and sexuality. It examines the controversies that surrounded the ‘dancing girl’ (also called the flapper or modern woman), as well as the male ‘lounge lizard’ or ‘dancing dandy’, within the context of the gender upheavals that occurred during and immediately after the First World War. The chapter also considers the negative assumptions about particular public dancing spaces, as well as the paid dance partners who were employed within them, showing that these were underpinned by class prejudice and anxieties about crime and sexual immorality. However, the chapter argues that social concerns about dancing were strongly contested from the very start of the modern dance era, and that this leisure form became progressively more respectable and integrated into the national culture as professionalisation and commercialisation processes progressed throughout the interwar years.

Keywords:   Women, Gender, Sexuality, Flapper, Masculinity, Dance hall, Dance partner, Respectability

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