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By Barbara Ehrenreich

"Fascinating . . . An admirably lucid, level-headed heritage of outbreaks of pleasure from Dionysus to the thankful Dead."--Terry Eagleton, The Nation

Widely praised as "impressive" (The Washington submit booklet World), "ambitious" (The Wall highway Journal), and "alluring" (The la Times), Dancing within the Streets explores a human impulse that has been so successfully suppressed that we lack even a time period for it: the need for collective pleasure, traditionally expressed in revels of feasting, costuming, and dancing.

Drawing on a wealth of historical past and anthropology, Barbara Ehrenreich uncovers the origins of communal social gathering in human biology and tradition. From the earliest orgiastic Mesopotamian rites to the medieval perform of Christianity as a "danced religion" and the transgressive freedoms of carnival, she demonstrates that mass festivities have lengthy been relevant to the Western culture. In contemporary centuries, this festive culture has been repressed, cruelly and infrequently bloodily. yet as Ehrenreich argues during this unique, exhilarating, and eventually confident e-book, the celebratory impulse is just too deeply ingrained in human nature ever to be thoroughly extinguished.

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A means of raising money for a worthy cause, during the Civil War they were used to support the war effort. A dance would likely include a grand march, Lancers quadrille, 56 Popular Dance galops, schottische, and soldier’s joy, often closing with the Spanish dance or Spanish waltz, set dances done in a circle or a line using waltz steps. It was improper to dance with the same partner all evening, as participants at a ball had an obligation to mingle to ensure that everyone had a pleasant time in order to forget the war for a few hours.

Here, young couples gather for a square dance at the local YMCA in Wilmington, Delaware, in 1947. Made in America 63 It was easy to find someone who could play a guitar, a fiddle, or an accordion to provide accompaniment. Americans and recent European immigrants brought their disparate dance styles to square dancing, creating a new form. While figures and calls varied from east to west, many of them kept their French names, such as promenade (take a walk) and do-si-do (from the phrase dos a dos—back-to-back).

Wooden floor, music, and a caller, and either a barn, someone’s living room, the town hall, or, in later years, the grange hall. These “ingredients” made it easy for pioneers to bring their dances with them. Dancing reflected the color, custom, and casual nature of life in the Wild West. Patterns challenged the dancers’ attentiveness but allowed everyone to participate, even those unfamiliar with a dance, through the use of a caller, an American innovation. The caller kept order on the dance floor and allowed everyone to join the dance without having previous instruction and memorizing figures with patterns as complex as those of the quadrille.

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