Thursday, September 8, 2016

Hellward, New York? The Shimmy Dance and Other Indecencies

Dance, Daughters, Dance! 1928
By the time a young actress danced in front of a three-way mirror and on table tops, shaking her body as her bobbed hair bobbed and her scandalously short skirt swayed up and down, the dance known as the "Shimmy" was almost a decade old.

This was Joan Crawford in the Academy Award nominated film, Our Dancing Daughters (1928). Crawford epitomized the flapper-dancer-modern-woman of the Jazz era. She may have brought the popular Shimmy dance to the (somewhat respectable) silver screen, but she also tamed it in many ways. The Shimmy had actually emerged a decade earlier, in the months after the end of World War I.  And it caused an uproar.