War played a major role in creating the cult of the teenager. With men over eighteen in the service, younger boys stepped in as "heads of families". These big men about town picked up easy pocket cash in a labour scarce work force. Teenage girls too earned money by babysitting for parents on night shifts at war plants. The teenagers had disposible income to lavish on themselves and Madison Avenue moved quickly to milk it by promoting clothing crazes, pop songs, and dances. Saturday nights crowds of teenage kids converge on their local dance halls.
Teenagers of the late forties were largely innocent, sexually naive, uncynical, and uncritical of adults and the world around them. The biggest problem in their lives was coping with zits. By the late forties girls wore a uniform of a pleated skirt, baggy sweater, bobby sox and loafers.
Absent fathers and working mothers also attributed to the alienated teenager who roamed the streets at night and was dubbed the juvenile delinquent.
After the war the great North American population felt the years of hardship were behind them and for the next two decades turned their back on realism in search of magic. By the close of the decade American teens were wearing motor cycle jackets and boots or else penny loafers. Bobby soxers wore poodle skirts and two tone saddle shoes. Poddle skirts were made from felt and bore an appliqué of a fully coiffed French poodle with rhinestones for eyes and additional rhinestones defining a collar.
The Bunny hop was a conga type dance. Participants held the hip of the person in front of them and moved left from right with their feet, as they hopped to the beat.
The Bop followed and consisted of couples faced each other, jumped up and down and on landing furiously ground their heels into the floor. The dance is thought to have originated from Southern California and was discovered on bandstand. A laid back version was known as the Sloppy.
To bop while skipping in place was called the pony, whereas doing the bop to other animal mimicry became the chicken, monkey, the dog and the alligator (these dances were banned in many dance halls because they were considered too risqué). Many of these dances were reprised in the 60s.
A line dance reminiscent of the old fashioned Virginia reel known as the Stroll.
As tempo and movement increased more and more teenegers wore canvas topped rubber soled shoes to the dancing