Friday, October 29, 2010

Waltz was once considered dirty dancing


By Patsy Holden, Orlando Ballroom Dancing Examiner

.. No matter what generation you emerge from, there will always be something that the younger generations do that cause you to shake your head and frown with disgust. Believe it or not, the Waltz was once considered one of those very things, the downfall of young society.

It is true, yet hard to believe, that there was once a time when every pastor in America preached against the evils of the Waltz. The desperate accusations, including that the Waltz stole every woman of her virtuous nature, were the same complaints heard in the 1920's about Jazz and the Lindy-hop, the 1950's with the Swing and Rock-n-Roll, and the in the 1970's with the Hustle...that couples' dancing was sinful. In fact, virtually every ballroom dance was originally conceived as sinful and just plain wrong.

The Waltz originated from peasant dancing in Europe, and the white elite society would not dare be caught seen dancing in the ways of "those people." Yet "those people" enjoyed what they could of life though their music and untrained dance movements, and the temptations on the upper classes to also enjoy music and life were real and could not be avoided. The solution? Hire your own private dance instructor who could mold the barbaric and animalistic peasant dance moves using elite mannerisms to make them look more elite-worthy.

The Waltz is the oldest of all the ballroom dances, and was the most popular dance during the entire 19th century. In formal attire, men often wore swords and women always wore huge gowns. This, and the fact that ballrooms had large floors, that women liked to twirl and and spin, and that Johann Strauss Jr. and his fast Waltzes were extremely popular, helped to shape the image of the Waltz dance position and Waltz style that we know today. However, because of that dance position, which meant touching the opposite sex in public, the Waltz was considered the downfall of the entire young elite society that embraced it with enthusiasm. How times have changed our views of this beautiful dance.

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