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Distributed for Reaktion Books


A People’s History of Dancing

Distributed for Reaktion Books


A People’s History of Dancing

A tune-filled, light-footed people’s history of ballroom dancing, from Vernon and Irene Castle and Arthur Murray to Dancing with the Stars.
In the early twentieth century, American ragtime and the Parisian Tango fueled a dancing craze in Britain. Public ballrooms—which had never been seen before—were built throughout the country, providing a glamorous setting for all classes to dance. The new styles of dance being defined and taught in the 1920s, as well as the films of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in the 1930s, ensured that ballroom dancing continued to be the most popular pastime until the 1960s, rivaled only by the cinema.
This book explores the vibrant history of Ballroom and Latin: the dances, the lavish venues, competitions, and influential instructors. It also traces the decline of competitive dancing and its resurgence in recent years with the hugely popular TV shows Strictly Come Dancing and Dancing with the Stars.

304 pages | 10 color plates, 60 halftones | 6 1/4 x 9 1/4

History: British and Irish History

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"French’s fascinating people’s history of dancing is also a cultural history of social space: those cathedral-sized palaces created to meet the enormous demand for dancing at the turn of the twentieth century."

Morning Star

"Strictly fans will love Hilary French's Ballroom, a 'people's history' of dancing that tells how American ragtime and Parisian tango fuelled a dancing craze in Britain in the early part of the last century. The book also charts the emergence of Latin dance, and the rise, fall and rise again of ballroom dancing."


"Have you ever watched Strictly Come Dancing and wondered about the history of ballroom and Latin dancing? If so, French has provided an authoritative and accessible introduction. . . . French's richly detailed book is thoroughly recommended for anyone intrigued by the social history of dancing."

BBC History

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