This two-volume set relates the history of the most popular social dances, where they began, which dances survived the test of time and why, and what attracted American men and women to social dancing in these periods. Unlike other books on social dancing that taught people How to Dance, this set not only describes the dances, but also how and why Americans danced. This two-volume set is the most comprehensive examination of American social dance from the first settlements in 1607 through the birth of the nation in 1776 and into the beginning of the 21st century. Social Dancing in America encompasses the global nature of the ethnic contributions to the formation of many unique American social dances. Those influences included American Indian, Spanish, Caribbean, African, European, and other ethnic cultures that created original American social dances such as the Lindy Hop, Rock 'n' Roll, the Twist, Disco, Breakdancing, and Hip-Hop. The set is also a celebration of the American spirit embodied among everyday individuals as they danced for fun, recreation, and family celebrations such as weddings.
Social Dancing in America places social dancing in a historical, social, cultural, and political context. Volume 1 explores the integral role that social dancing played in the lives of Americans from the first settlements in 1607 through the the 19th century, often in the most unlikely of ways. For example, readers may be surprised to learn that George Washington was a well-known aficionado of social dancing, and that he incorporated the etiquette and manners of dances such as the Minuet as a means of diplomacy to secure European allies during the Revolutionary War. After his death, Americans continued to celebrate his birthday with a grand ball that included dancing. Volume 2 places social dance in a 20th-Century context, illustrating how social dancing itself paralled the social, economic, and cultural traditions of each era. For example, segregation and the Jim Crow mentality was cemented in place all over the United States, and for much of the century, dancing and dance halls were strictly segregated. Segregation forced a mass migration north, and with it came the transformation of Delta Blues music into an American original—Jazz. Jazz gave birth to the Charleston, and later evolved into Swing, which created the Lindy Hop. Later, with the advent of television, programming such as American Bandstand, Soul Train, Dance Fever, and MTV greatly influenced dance styles and modern trends such as Rock 'n' Roll, Freestyle, Disco, Breakdancing, and Hip-Hop.