1950’s Dance Etiquette

by admin on March 23, 2010

For our reading pleasure today….


Is the woman the “butterfly”? The look on the man’s face would indicate he finds her to be bizarre.

Sorry, but I’m going to pounce on my husband with as much delight as I can generate.

If the “breaker” is a creeper, I expect my partner to exhibit the bad form necessary to keep me dancing with him and not the creeper.

I really hate dance floor hogs.  But I probably dislike hosts who provide teensy dance floors which cannot accomodate the expected number of dancing guests more.

I especially like the casual couple.  That’s so me and my DH.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Chocobo March 23, 2010 at 8:38 am

Mr. Butterfly: “What is with this woman and her incessant fluttering and flailing about? Indecent!”

I love how “Don’t go to extremes” is a basically direct appeal to refrain from that new fangled swing dancing. Look at them doing The Hop to the devil’s music! Look at those racy bangles she’s wearing! What is the world coming to!?

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Louise March 23, 2010 at 1:51 pm

lol @ the aggressive couple.

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TylerBelle March 23, 2010 at 3:30 pm

Mr. George Lopez seems not to know what to think of “the butterfly.” And I know it may drain a person’s confidence to be refused a cut-in, but I think the person being asked has a right to decline and continue dancing with their current partner (unless the current is the issue and one’s date / spouse has come to the rescue, then the “delightful pouncing” may commence). Also isn’t the cuddly couple so cute, all sweet and huggy.

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PrincessSimmi March 24, 2010 at 1:09 am

Last friday we went out, got drunk, and did knee-slides across the floor, did the sprinkler, the shopping cart, the lawn mower, the running man, and various other dance moves. For some reason, I don’t think we’d fit in in the 1950’s.

The cuddly couple are cute though.

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Kitty_ev March 24, 2010 at 9:41 am

Goodness, I’d be lucky to get my FH onto the dancefloor at all! We’d be the one couple they don’t appear to have included- the Inept, Unco-ordinated Couple!

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sbtier March 24, 2010 at 2:15 pm

I’ve always thought cutting in is strange. If you agree to dance with a certain man, why should some random guy be able to dance with you without your permission? Must have been the only way creeps could get women to dance with them.

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Mom March 24, 2010 at 2:49 pm

Can’t say I’m familiar with the Shopping Cart or Lawn Mower as dance moves … but DH is definitely the guy doing complicated moves on a crowded floor.

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Sazerac March 25, 2010 at 1:53 pm

What fun! I love vintage line art and this is some of the best. Those expressions are delightful! Interesting to see how some mores have changed over the past 60 years, and how some should always be in vogue, no matter the season or year. Oh, and the “casual couple” definitely would be my wife and me–either that, or “going to extremes.” :)

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PinkPenguin March 25, 2010 at 2:46 pm

Re: Cutting in

I suppose back in the ’50s (and earlier), when even a high school dance was a more structured affair, “cutting in” was okay because a woman could probably feel reasonably secure that the gentleman cutting in would be, well, “a gentleman” about having another man’s wife/girlfriend/companion in his arms. Not to say there weren’t jerks and boors and worse back then, but I think there was a general expectation of behavior that was generally adhered to. At least that’s what my aunt, who would have been in her 20’s and very much a part of that scene at that time, has explained to me.

Today, and I can’t speak for all women, but I’m afraid I’d be quite uncomfortable suddenly being handed off to a man I don’t know, or may know but not that well. It’s one thing to be at a cocktail party and find yourself chatting to someone you don’t know, but they don’t have their hands on you in that situation. I guess I would at least expect to have been properly introduced to someone before having them “cut in.”

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Xtina March 25, 2010 at 4:06 pm

I love this! Funny to see how customs have changed over the years. I guess it should not go without noting that “the cuddly couple” is the norm now for slow-dancing couples, whereas in years past, that was apparently a little too PDA to be considered proper. Times have certainly changed.

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agent j March 26, 2010 at 11:54 am

re: “cutting in”–as a Lindy hopper, my experience has been that almost no one cuts in nowadays, you just wait until the song is over. I can’t vouch for the 50s, but today it’s generally considered good form to dance for 1 or 2 songs with the same person and then mutually split and find new partners. The only time someone would cut in is during a jam–a really long song intended expressly for that purpose, so that the person who is the center of the jam (ex. the birthday girl) gets to dance with as many people as possible, and even then it’s more of a “handoff” than a cut and it’s usually done comically.

I actually agree with a lot of this, although not all. I can tell you it’s a pain to dance with someone who doesn’t make eye contact or form a connection (‘the arrogant couple,’ ‘the butterfly’), who leads too strongly (‘the bully’) and who doesn’t respect floorcraft and stomps all over neighboring couples. Some of these, I want to copy and tape them up around my studio! hehe.

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Katie May 3, 2010 at 1:47 pm

Great post! I like the images, where did you find them? Do you have something similar for a cocktail party???

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Papa I ad er os a March 16, 2011 at 6:59 am

Great post! I like the images, where did you find them? Do you have something similar for a cocktail party???

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