A History of Social Dance in America
September 25, 2007 11:03 PM   Subscribe

"While we live, let us LIVE." A History of Social Dance in America, complete with vintage cheat sheets, a look at the perils of crinoline and lots of other period detail. Naturally, there were those who objected to this scandalous practice. See also the Library of Congress' An American Ballroom Companion: Dance Instruction Manuals 1490-1920, especially here and here. [via BibliOdyssey]
posted by mediareport (6 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Supposedly led by inspiration, the Shakers would whirl rapidly, propelling themselves in circles by having one foot continually stepping around the other. Much of the time the whirling would continue for ten or fifteen minutes, though it was known in some instances to have lasted for up to forty-minutes. The Shakers believed that in order to obtain religious revelation one had to labor; part of this endeavor involved writhing and twirling of the body.

(filed in "I Never Knew" dept.)
posted by mediareport at 11:05 PM on September 25, 2007

BibliOdyssey is by Metafilter's Own peacay.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 11:53 PM on September 25, 2007

Cool post, thanks! I love the American Antiquarian links, especially the one under "perils of crinoline."
posted by amyms at 12:27 AM on September 26, 2007

Out of this World:
The main attraction for tourists was Sunday public worship meeting, when hundreds of spectators crowded into the meetinghouse to watch the Shakers perform the dances that gave them their name. The effect on the audience was electric. Outsiders who could tolerate celibacy and communalism, and even shrug their shoulders at the notion that men and women were equal, were scandalized by the idea of dancing in church. Amazed, amused, or aghast, shocked observers likened Shakers at worship to kangaroos, dancing bears, and overgrown antelopes bounding around the room. “Senseless jumping,” Emerson wrote, “this shaking of their hands, like the paws of dogs.”

“And to work they went with one accord,” Mrs. Hall reported, “singing or rather screaming, tunes of a kind of jig time, at the same time walking round the room with a swinging step somewhat between a walk and a dance and flapping their hands with a penguin kind of motion.”
When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed.
To turn, turn will be our delight,
'Til by turning, turning we come round right
posted by pracowity at 12:38 AM on September 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

The cheat sheet looks like a comic strip. I imagine after few dance and drinks, the guy dances a hornpipe, has to sit down, passes out and gets carried home. Or maybe it's about proto-roofies.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 8:51 AM on September 26, 2007

Thanks, pracowity, those links are fascinating.
posted by mediareport at 3:12 PM on September 26, 2007

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