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On-line version ISSN 2309-8392
Print version ISSN 0018-229X


GREEN, Alida. The Great War and a new dance beat: Opening the South African dance floor. Historia [online]. 2015, vol.60, n.1, pp.60-74. ISSN 2309-8392.

The Great War of 1914, and the increase in the South African urban society, served as a catalyst to expand the South African social dancing scene. While dancing before the War was still very exclusive, dancing during War time became radically more popular with fund raising balls, the celebration of victories and the infiltration of the jazz beat into ballroom dances. Dancing during this time was however far more than a mere "antidote to war depression", it was the opening up of the public dance sector with the incorporation of the untraditional, dances that turned the dance movements into "dance crazes". This subsequently allowed those that were previously excluded from this elitist past time, to be included into the dance crazes of the time.

Keywords : South African ballroom dancing; First World War; Governor-Generals; Ragtime dances; social dances; public dance halls; shebeen; gramophone; urbanization.

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