05-26-18 – Blog Queen - Sarah Raplee

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Dirty Dancing

I don’t write Regency, but often think it would be great fun to send a hip-hopper back to 1820’s England. Just think of the possible plotlines.

During the Regency period, the waltz caused as much of an uproar as Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction during Super Bowl XXXVIII. Yep, the boring 1-2-3, 1-2-3 waltz. The dance was considered outrageous and initially condemned by polite society. Never before had men and women actually embraced in public.

So where did the waltz come from? No one actually invented the dance, it evolved from a German folk dance into the Walzer, which basically means a rotating movement. The dance became popular in Vienna and migrated to Paris via Napoleon’s soldiers. The waltz later glided across the channel to merry old England.

The three-quarter timing is one of the most distinguishing features of the waltz. Each measure of music has three beats rather than the more common four and this timing is pretty unique to the waltz. When dancing, you literally count 1-2-3, 1-2-3, with a heavy emphasis on the one. Graceful turns are essential for polished dancers.

The dance has endured for over two-hundred years. Pretty impressive. Even in today’s hip hop world, the waltz has been touted as being one of the world’s five most popular dances—with foxtrot, rumba, cha-cha, and swing being the other four. Don’t ask me who compiles these surveys, because I find the statistics a bit suspect. Still, no one can deny the staying power of this once “shocking” dance.

Now that you understand a bit of the waltz’s history and the scandal it created in ballrooms, how would you insert a head-spinning, hard-hitting crumper with low slung jeans into the Regency waltzing mix?

Robin Weaver
Author of Blue Ridge Fear and Artifact of Death


Linda Lovely said...

It would be great fun to see the shock. Of course, I'm old enough to remember how shocked folks were when Elvis rocked his hips on the Ed Sullivan show. Fun post.

Paty Jager said...

I've always wanted to take dance lessons and learn to float across the floor so elegantly. I guess that's why "Dancing with the Stars" is so appealing. But I also like "So You Think You Can Dance." Music and movement have always been my go to things to let off energy or be soothed. I bet if you dropped hip-hopped into an 1820 ballroom among the waltzers they would forget all about their scandalous dance! Fun post!

Judith Ashley said...

I love reading Regencies and can imagine the grande dames of society fainting on the spot! and the marriage minded mothers hustling their girls out of sight. I think everyone else would be fascinated! And as a former president of an Elvis Presley fan club (my parents decided not to turn that into a power struggle), I've a good enough memory to know what some people would say about the ruining of America or in this case the downfall of The Empire.

Diana Mcc. said...

Great post! It's always fun to learn something new. In this case, I never knew the waltz caused such an up roar.

Sarah Raplee said...

I'd call my story 'A Connecticut Crumper in the Prince Regent's Court' and do a take-off of Mark Twain's famous story.