A Look At The Insanely Long Dance Marathons Of The Mid 1900’s

(PCM) If you have ever visited a night club you will quickly realized the dancing the night away is definitely still a trend that spans throughout the globe. However, you don’t tend to see very many dance competitions or dance marathons these days, but they were certainly all the rage back in the mid 1900’s to early 1930’s.

The first ‘known’ dance marathon winner was Alma Cummings, who danced for 27 hours without stopping back in early 1923. A few months later her record was shattered by 69 hours of dancing by Vera Sheppard. The American Society of Teachers of Dancing even formed a petition against them, and dance marathons in general because it was considered to be “dangerous and a disgrace to the art of dancing.”

Dance marathons began to gain popularity in 1923 as a fun endurance event. By the Depression era 1930s, these competitions were often made into exhausting and exploitative spectacles that abused the financial desperation of the contestants. Though dancers were expected to keep moving 24 hours a day with only short breaks for sleeping every hour or two, most were content with shelter and steady meals, along with the hope of a big payoff if they were the last couple standing.

As you can see that really didn’t stop anyone and the dance marathon trend continue to gain steam and of course world-wide attention. Many dance marathons would take place to raise money or awareness to various charitable organizations and would often last for upwards of 20 hours or more.

Other dance marathons that took place in the early 1930’s would sometimes last for weeks on end and in some case, even months. Below is a clip of one such dance marathon:

After awhile many began to pick up on just how dangerous these lengthy dance marathons could be as they could seriously impact the health and wellness of those competing. The trend continued for a few more years, but eventually fizzled it’s way out near the late 1930’s.



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