The Wicked Waltz and Other Scandalous Dances




The Wicked Waltz and Other Scandalous Dances Outrage at Couple Dancing in the 19th and Early 20th Centuries

McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers

ISBN: 978-0-7864-3708-5


photos, notes, bibliography, index

$39.95 softcover (7 x 10)


The waltz, perhaps the most beloved social dance of the 19th and early 20th centuries, once provoked outrage from religious leaders and other self-appointed arbiters of social morality. Decrying the corrupting influence of social dancing, they failed to suppress the popularity of the waltz or other dance crazes of the period, including the Charleston, the tango, and “animal dances” such as the Turkey Trot, Grizzly Bear, and Bunny Hug. This book investigates the development of these popular dances, considering in particular how their very existence as “taboo” cultural fads ultimately provided a catalyst for lasting social reform. In addition to examining the impact of the waltz and other scandalous dances on fashion, music, leisure, and social reform, the text describes the opposition to dance and the proliferation of literature on both sides.

“…meticulously researched…This scholarly yet entertaining read is recommended for dance, history, and popular culture enthusiasts.” – Library Journal, Vol. 134, No. 10, June 1, 2009.

“Writing in a style both confident and friendly, Knowles outlines antidance sentiments by tracing objections stemming from so-called moralists and Christians…Wonderful illustrations and photographs enhance the book…a nice contribution to dance history.”  –Choice, March 2010

“…a glittering gem. Would that I had this rich, beautifully organized and staggeringly indexed, footnoted work when I was teaching! …the smooth, saucy, highly readable style keeps the reader moving along… and the pictures are priceless.” – Cheryl Cutler, founder of the Wesleyan University dance dept. & author of Creative Listening: Overcoming Fear in Life and Work., February 2010.