Saturday, January 20, 2018

Modern Dance: Foxtrot & Tango Risqué

Each new era kicked off not just with a new dance craze but also a new venue in which to dance. Across the globe couples were enjoying the fox trot and the tango in the ballroom. Late in 1913, Harry Fox was a music hall performer and trotted out a jerky two step to ragtime. When the dance was refined it would become the most popular form of dancing associated with the war years.

During the early decades of the 20th century the tango with its smooth suave Latin sensualness became the dirty dancing of the period.

The dance was thought to resemble a sadistic Apache dance in which a woman attempts to love a sadistic man. The origins of the word ‘tango’ are thought to be the Spanish ‘tengo,’ meaning first person singular, or "I possess". No dance craze swept the world faster than the tango and brought millions of dollars to dance studios. Originating in Argentina it found its way to Paris via the Atlantic luxury cruisers of the time.

Rudolph Valentino tangoed his way to fame causing women in the audience to swoon and faint from worship. The dance was banned in many cities with the threat of fines and imprisonment. By 1913 the craze hit England and became very much a tea dance phenomenon.

Irene and Vernon Castle were the key dancers of the time predating Fred Astair and Ginger Rogers by at least two decades.

Vernon and Irene Castle were 'the' people in dancing circles as well as fashion icons, their following was in the millions. Each appearance was studied by their fans and when she wore white satin shoes, stores could not keep the items in stock.

When Vernon wore a wrist watch he broke the macho custom of wearing a fob (pocket) watch. Until this time wrist watches were thought rather effeminate but hence forth all real men sported wrist watches.

Women's shoes were made from silk, fabric or kid leathers with styles including straps and buttons. Louis heels began to re-appear and shoes were made for dual day wear as well as dancing.

Reviewed 29/01/2016

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