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One of the things I love most about the 1920s (besides the clothes and the hilarious slang!) is the music and dance styles. Nothing calls to mind “the ’20s” as quickly as an image of beautiful young flappers doing the Charleston. Social dancing had been a very big deal for a long time, of course (I also write stories set in the Elizabethan era and the Regency, and those people LOVED their dance parties!0, but it changed very quickly in the 1920s. Younger people loved going to speakeasies for the music and the dance floors as well as for an illicit cocktail, and the clubs that had the best bands were the most crowded.
Dances that had been popular before (like the waltz and the foxtrot) were still widely performed, and dances like the Black Bottom, the cakewalk, and the Charleston evolved from the ragtime dances of World War I (and were mostly done by the younger generation, since it took a lot of energy and strong knees!! These were also popular solo dances for young women, which was something new). Tangos and sambas were being imported from South America, and close dancing (“cheek to cheek”) was very popular. (Seriously, when I look at some of the old photos, the couple seem very close indeed, even to 21st century standards!). Most of the dances were fairly simple variations on “walk and glide,” and are fairly simple to learn at least the basics, so everyone could dance at parties. (Even if you couldn’t do an elaborate, Valentino-esque tango, you could do a basic foxtrot, and a fringe-y, sparkling dress could easily distract from slipping footwork!)
So I wondered–what dance would our heroines most enjoy??
Jessica from Rebellious would like a tango–romantic, sexy, showy, but also somewhat traditional…
Meggie from Reckless would go for a Charleston–something that looks great from the stage, and would keep “mashers” at arms length when needed!
Eliza from Ruined would most like a Shimmy–very sexy, not too difficult to learn, and also useful as a solo dance…
And Charlotte from Runaway would do a waltz–fairly traditional, every deb would know it, but in newer, closer 1920s style!
For a great article about women in the ’20s and the power of dance, take a look here…
Which dance would you choose???