Way Back When: Dirty Dancing in January 1914

Way Back When: Dirty Dancing in January 1914 title=
Way Back When: Dirty Dancing in January 1914
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On New Year’s Eve in Santa Barbara, as partygoers bid adieu to 1913, a controversial dance appeared on the scene here as it did all over the world (Image: courtesy of State Library of New South Wales)

By Betsy J. Green

“No social season is complete without a fad, and this year the fad is the tango,” gushed one society columnist in the local paper. The tango was clearly the hot dance way back when.

Not everyone was taking to the tango back in 1914. In Rome, the pope declared that the tango “outrages modesty,” and added, “The people must be made to see the grave offense to God and the irreparable harm to society by participating in spectacles which incite looseness of morals.” 

If that weren’t enough to make you sit out this fad, the “Journal of the American Medical Association” declared that “elderly [tango] dancers were in danger of putting too great a strain on a dilated heart or an arteriosclerotic artery.” 


Betsy's Way Back When book -- 1919 -- is now available in local bookstores and at Amazon.com. This is the sixth book in her series of the history of Santa Barbara, one year at a time. Learn more at betsyjgreen.com​

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