• Degradation As Entertainment?  Is This Today's MMA?  No.

  • How About The Dance Craze Of The Great Depression -Dance Marathons

  • Let's Foxtrot Back In History 87 Years Ago When Washington's Governor Took Action

Millions of Americans grew up watching the spotlight dance on American Bandstand and the stroll down the Soul Train line. It was good fun just watching people dance. (kinda like Dancing With The Stars but with less cleavage and fewer sparkles)

Forty years earlier, watching people dance became a national craze and spectacle as couples danced almost non-stop for hundreds of hours for prize money. The events became as much a part of life during the Great Depression as high unemployment and low expectations. NOT a thing of beauty but of wretched endurance.


Dance Marathons Were Torturous Events In A Desperate Time In America

It was a time when people were willing to do almost anything to make a buck. Dance marathons became increasingly popular, both as entertainment and opportunity.

The events offered food and shelter to spectators and contestants, in addition to lucrative cash prizes equivalent to a year’s wages. After paying the relatively low admission fee, attendees were free to stay as long as they wanted
courtesy of YouTube
courtesy of YouTube

The Contests Would Go On For Days, Weeks, And Even Months

The contests were like musical chairs in reverse. When the music stopped you wanted to be the last couple standing. Endless shuffling with just 15 minutes an hour for rest or sleep.

Contestants were fed up to 12 times per day, which was a big incentive for people to participate. Of course, they had to keep dancing while eating. Contestants were also allowed to do things like washing, shaving, and reading, all while keeping their feet moving.

READ MORE: Where To Dance In Yakima

102.7 KORD logo
Get our free mobile app
They Shoot Horses
Getty Images

Plenty Of Pushback Triggered A Mercy Killing Of Marathons

Not everyone was a fan. Watch the 1969 hit movie "They Shoot Horses Don't They?" starring Jane Fonda and you'll know why! History Link spells it out:

Marathons provoked great protests ...Churches and women's groups objected on moral grounds to the contestants' full-body hugging/dragging ... of one another around the floor for hours ...and also for humanitarian reasons --the rigors of a dance endurance contest were felt to degrade the human spirit and morals of the contestants and by extension of the community
courtesy of YouTube
courtesy of YouTube

Spectators Found A Cruel Pleasure Watching The Physical Suffering Of The Dancers

In 1928, a woman from Seattle attempted suicide after competing in a dance marathon. During the contest, she was punched in the jaw by her partner, who seemed to be suffering from psychosis due to sleep deprivation. (Weird things like that happened frequently!) The woman and her partner finished fifth and won just $50. (worth $886 in today's money) 

The physical and psychological toll of dance marathons was high, so, 87 years ago this week, Washington Governor Clarence D. Martin signed into law State Bill 189 outlawing the Depression-era human endurance contests on March 15, 1937. The law remained in effect until it was repealed in 1987.

40 Father-Daughter Dance Songs Country Fans Will Love

The greatest father-daughter dance song in country music history isn't all that old. A legend sings a ballad he wrote for the occasion — that's what separates good from great on our list of daddy wedding tributes.

Of course, every bride's relationship with her father is unique, so we've worked hard to find a variety of stories. Stepfathers get some love, and there's more than one lyric that's less goodbye and more good advice. Click on a couple links you've never tried before, then choose your favorite father-daughter dance song in country music.

These Are the Top 15 Global First Dance Wedding Songs

Discover the top 15 first dance songs used at wedding around the world, below (as of March 2022).

Gallery Credit: Jacklyn Krol


More From 102.7 KORD