Jul 20, 2011

Dance till you Drop (literally)

As much as I *love* to dance, I don't believe there is any amount of money that would ever persuade me to do what desperate couples were doing in the 1920's & early 1930's. 

During an awfully difficult economic era, The Dance Marathons were endurance competitions that became a fad in which couples danced until they dropped (literally) for a chance to win cash prizes if they were lucky to be among the last of the contestants on the floor. Times must have been tough for people to be dancing in these contests for as long as they did (some lasted months, yes, MONTHS) to beat out their competitors. The marathons also served as a form of cheap live entertainment for the many, many people who made up the audience. Kinda disturbing, isn't it?

1930s MAN WOMAN DANCERS Dance Marathon Great Depression 3

Dancers were automatically disqualified if either partner's knees touched the floor.

1930s MAN WOMAN DANCERS Dance Marathon Great Depression 2

1930s MAN WOMAN DANCERS Dance Marathon Great Depression

Dancers were usually given 15 minutes every hour for rest/bathroom use/etc. I cannot imagine how many people must have felt like they were going crazy after such an odd sleeping pattern. 
The exhaustion must have been unbearable!

1930s MEN WOMEN DANCERS CROWD Dance Marathon Great Depression

I'm on a history kick lately, and this is the library book (below) I found myself absorbed with this week. This youtube video makes me sad to watch, but it shows actual footage of some of the marathons that were held in the U.S. I couldn't believe the parts where dancing couples would just suddenly FALL DOWN, sometimes toppling over their partners. How horrible! There's also a movie based on the marathons called "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" starring Jane Fonda. Find the trailer here.

PC: flickr


  1. Oh my god--those photos are kind of hilarious! Crazy.

    It's kind of a classier version of the Wal-Mart Black Friday sales stampedes.

  2. LMAO! Omg, I love that part about Walmart, Karen! Toooo funny.

  3. I think they went a little too extreme with the dance competitions. It reminds me of one of The Waltons episodes too when John-Boy did one of those contests with a girl. hehe. The people on the stretchers though and such. . .woah there.

  4. I saw that movie. It was so sad. the poverty against the hollywood glamour- it kind of resonates today too!


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