The introduction presents the book’s arguments and historiographical interventions, outlines its structure, and provides an explanation of the study’s periodisation. The years between the end of the First World War and the early 1950s saw what was known as ‘modern ballroom dancing’ rise and fall as Britain’s foremost popular style, and witnessed the professionalisation and commercialisation of popular dance. The introductory chapter also provides definitions for the book’s framing concepts and key terms. It defines ‘commercial nationalism’ as the process through which national identity was commodified by the ballroom dance profession and dance hall industry, producing an explicitly ‘national’ dancing style, which was in turn accepted, rejected, or transformed by the dancing public. This dialectical relationship between the producers and consumers of dance also accounts for why the book employs the term ‘popular dance’, rather than ‘social dance’. The ‘popular’ references theoretical frameworks from cultural studies and the history of popular culture, to encapsulate the mechanisms of the culture industry that surrounded dancing.
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