It’s 2020, and we’ve dealt with a number of horrible things, but at least we aren’t dealing with one terror from a century ago: animal dances. Activities like the Grizzly Bear, the Bunny Hug and the Kangaroo Dip were bad enough, but none of them caught on with the general public as much as the worst offender: the Turkey Trot.
It was terrible. It was salacious. It was so scandalous and rampant that Boston Mayor John F. Fitzgerald posted a policeman at every dance hall in his city and promised to personally revoke the licence of any place which allowed it. New York City Mayor William J. Gaynor described the dances as “lascivious orgies”.
Edward Bok, the publisher of the prominent magazine Ladies’ Home Journal discovered some of his employees practicing it on a lunch break. He immediately had all of them fired.
The dances were a nationwide scandal, pitting different groups – primarily youth vs. older adults – against each other. In the midst of the controversy, President Woodrow Wilson cancelled the 1913 inaugural ball. It was widely believed that he was worried that someone, or alternatively no-one, might be found performing one of the dances. After being harassed for that decision he simply banned the dances from being performed at any Presidential events.
That probably caused some friction inside the White House. Among the most fervent and public dancers in Washington D.C. were Wilson’s three daughters, Eleanor, Jessie and Margaret.
So, while we should all be glad we simply have to deal with a national pandemic instead of scandalous dances, an example should probably be provided of these terrible steps. Be warned, they may lead to orgiastic lasciviousness, or some such.
Strangely, the Fox Trot, which originated around the same time, wasn’t part of the Animal Dance craze at all… it was named after the performer who popularized it, Harry Fox.
Question of the night: What’s a dance or club song you’ve enjoyed?