‘It is not proposed to make total war total misery,’ said the Home Secretary Herbert Morrison in 1942, as he announced in the House of Commons that dancing was not to be included in the ‘recreations that are to be restricted to prevent interference with the war effort.’
Every town and village had a hall where dancing could take place. The bigger dance halls had orchestras, the smaller ones had a three piece band or records, sometimes only a piano. Early in the war the dances from previous decades were popular such as the Rumba, Foxtrot, Waltz and Quickstep. Learn to Foxtrot here:
Read about local dances in Bishopsteignton Parish Hall in this article by Mrs Edith Quantick;
When America entered the war they brought with them the swing music and dancing styles of their homeland, like the Lindy Hop. Read about how Britain danced the war away here;
Of course the dance hall was also somewhere that people could meet members of the opposite sex, and for many servicemen, billeted a long way from home, it was an opportunity to enjoy a little female company. The G.I.s from America caused quite a stir when they arrived in British towns and villages, and meeting them was another exciting reason for the girls to go to the dance halls.
One of the most innovative dances that came to Britain from America was the Lindy Hop. Lindy Hop combined a number of dances popular in the United States in the 1920s and earlier, many of which developed in African American communities. Just as jazz and swing music were evolving from similar sources, the dance crazes of Lindy Hop, Jive and Jitterbug are thought to have their roots in Harlem, New York in the 1920s and 30s. Read about its influence here.
If it were not for the Lockdown Bishopsteignton would have had it’s very own Lindy Hop dance and demonstration at the Community Centre on April 26th, with the great South West Lindy Hoppers. We still hope they will join us later in the year so the residents of Bishopsteignton can learn the dances. Meanwhile here are some links to them dancing and having fun.
See The South West Lindy Hoppers in action with the wonderful Liberty Sisters, who you will be hearing throughout the village on Friday afternoon on our own Bishopsteignton Broadcasting Corporation!