The Waltz

Aug 14, 2017

Credit SC Public Radio/Mary Noble Ours

When the dance known as the waltz first became popular in Europe in the late 1700's and early 1800's, it was considered by many observers to be the ultimate in lewdness and licentiousness, a corrupter of youth.

An article in The Times of London in 1816 referred to “the voluptuous intertwining of the limbs and close compressure on the bodies,” and continued that “as long as this obscene display was confined to prostitutes and adulteresses, we did not think it deserving of notice; but now that it is attempted to be forced on respectable classes of society…, we feel it a duty to warn every parent against exposing his daughter to so fatal a contagion.” Well, as you know, the warnings didn’t work, and with the music of Johann Strauss, Jr. in the dance halls of 19 th-century Vienna, the waltz reached the pinnacle of its popularity. Not only that, it became respectable.

This has been A Minute with Miles – a production of South Carolina Public Radio, made possible by the J.M. Smith Corporation.