Monday, June 9, 2008

Banned in Boston - Animal Dances

I've been sitting on this article for a while, and I've decided that although it has no Jamaica Plain content, it is Boston, and it's just too good to keep under wraps. I've posted a few articles about dances held during the late 1800s and early 1900s, and I've often wished I could see a demonstration of what kind of dances they were doing. By 1913, a new type of dance had hit the scene - the "animal dances." Unlike the more genteel dances of the past, these steps involved partners pressing against each other in tight embraces. These dances were banned in many cities across the country, with Boston joining the killjoy effort. A year later, the foxtrot would become popular, and this new mode of dance would take the country by storm.

I have no specific reference to how the Mayor's edict affected dancing in Jamaica Plain, but I'm sure that as elsewhere, the kids found a way shock and annoy their elders.

Boston Daily Globe October 11, 1913

Bars Improper Dancing.

Mayor's Orders for Public Halls Includes the Tango, "Animal Dances" and Some Others.

By orders of Mayor Fitzgerald yesterday, improper dances of all kinds are excluded from the public dance halls of Boston. The prohibition includes all the so-called animal dances, such as the turkey trot, bunnie hug, bear dance, etc, also the kitchen sink, tango and other extravagances.

John M. Casey, the licensing clerk, wrote out the Mayor's directions in 17 short rules which are to be posted in a conspicuous place in each dance hall. The management of each hall will be held strictly responsible for enforcement of the regulations, and violations will result in the suspension or revocation of the license, it is announced.

Some of the regulations follow:

Improper dancing will not be tolerated; persons so indulging will be immediately ejected.

No moonlight or shadow lighting effect. The hall must remain fully lighted.

No dance shall continue after 3 o'clock a.m. unless by written permission of the Mayor,and not later than 11:45 Saturdays.

Pass-out checks are not to be issued.

Matrons shall be employed at every public dance and have entire charge of ladies' rooms.

Minors under the age of 17 years shall not be admitted to hall unless accompanied by parent or guardian.

By special instructions of the directors of the Musician's Union, all orchestras are directed to obey the orders of the representative of the Mayor to cease playing should conditions so justify.

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