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“Allowing oneself to wallow in the rhythm and be soaked up to the eyeballs in music”: Young people dancing in the late 1960s

“Allowing oneself to wallow in the rhythm and be soaked up to the eyeballs in music”: Young people dancing in the late 1960s

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Published by Sarah Mcnicol
In 1968, a survey was conducted among 400 young people (13-23 years) within the ILEA (Inner London Education Authority). The aim was "to find out as much as possible about the part played by dancing in the lives of young people". This is an analysis of data published from the survey.
In 1968, a survey was conducted among 400 young people (13-23 years) within the ILEA (Inner London Education Authority). The aim was "to find out as much as possible about the part played by dancing in the lives of young people". This is an analysis of data published from the survey.

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Published by: Sarah Mcnicol on May 15, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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“Allowing oneself to wallow in therhythm and be soaked up to theeyeballs in music”: Young peopledancing in the late 1960s
 
Sarah McNicol May 2013
Based on data published in: Rust, Frances (1969), Dance in Society: an analysis of the relationshipbetween the social dance and society, in England, from the middle ages to the present day, London:Routledge & Kegan Paul.
Introduction
Alongside the introduction of the waltz in the nineteenth century and ragtime dances in the earlytwentieth century, the development of solo dances of the 1960s can be seen as one of the mostsignificant changes in social dancing. The introduction of the twist in the early years of the decade, to be followed by ska, rocksteady, beat, shake and similar dances, had a major impact on dancing
 
habits in the UK, especially among those under 25. As part of the growing youth culture, thesepredominantly solo dances were focussed on rhythm, had no formal rules and providedopportunities for individual expression.In 1968, a survey was conducted among 400 young people (13-23 years) within the ILEA (InnerLondon Education Authority). The aim was "to find out as much as possible about the part played bydancing in the lives of young people". An overview of the findings, and tabulated data, are publishedwithin Frances Rust's
Dance in Societ 
y (1969)
1
.In total, 419 young people responded to the survey, 230 male and 189 female. All were in eitherfull-, or part-time education, with approximately one third being in secondary or further educationand two-thirds in higher education.
How often did young people dance?
 
Dancing was clearly a popular hobby; almost three-quarters of young people danced at least once amonth. Girls tended to dance more frequently than boys; 52% of girls danced at least once a weekcompared to 30% of boys. Younger students also danced more often. More than a third of those insecondary or further education went dancing several times a week compared to less than 10% of those in higher education. (Chart 1)
1
Rust, Frances (1969),
Dance in Society: an analysis of the relationship between the social dance and society, in England, from the middle ages to the present day,
London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
 
 (male: 230, female: 189)
Chart 1: Frequency of dancing
Solo dances
Beat, or shake, dances were the first choice of dance for both boys (23%) and girls (56%). In total,91% of girls and 66% of boys danced beat or shake dances. (Chart 6)There was a difference between age groups; among those aged 13 to 15, 93% took part in beatdancing, but amongst those aged 23 or over, only 67% danced to beat music. Similarly, the numberdancing without a partner declined among older age groups; 72% of 13-15 year olds sometimesdanced without a partner, while only 9% of those aged 23 and over did so. Beat and shake danceswere generally seen as the preserve of the young; 44% of the young people surveyed thought theywere unsuitable for those aged over 30. However, 38% felt that age was of no importance.The most common reason for liking beat dancing was for its sense of fun and excitement (15%),which was often a stark contrast to the more formal atmosphere of ballroom dances. (Chart 2)
They are likely and usually put one in a happy mood (male, higher education)They are lively and fun to do (female, further education)
It’s a way of letting off steam (male, further education)
 
The ease of execution and the fact that the dances had no set steps to learn (11%) were also reasonsgiven for the popularity of beat dancing.
You don’t really have to know a p
articular step (female, higher education)Easy to perform: energy, not skill, is required (male, higher education)
10%20%37%27%13%28%24%32%12%5%Several times a weekOnce a weekAt least monthlyMore than once a yearOnce a year or less
How often, on average, do you dance?
FemaleMale
 
These dances are not hard to learn. One usually has to watch another person and in no timehe or she can do the dance (female, further education)
Young people also said they welcome the opportunities for self-expression and creativity broughtabout by beat dancing (10%).
Own individual style and one can be less inhibited because there are no rules (female,secondary education)Can express your appreciation of melody and rhythm; can dance as the mood of the musictakes you. (higher education)You can really get into the feel of the dance (female, further education)
Enjoying the beat or rhythm of the music was another factor which made beat dances attractive(9%).
Once I hear beat music I just can’t sit down because it gives such a good atmosphere (female,
higher education)They allow oneself to wallow in the rhythm and to be soaked up to the eyeballs in music(male, higher education)The music is good: plenty of rhythm and music (female, further education)
Very few give reasons to dislike beat dancing, but 4% said they feared looking ridiculous and dislikedthe raw, inelegant nature of beat dances. (Chart 3)
They are ridiculous-looking dances (male, further education)I feel foolish doing them (male, higher education)

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