Dance with History 1900 to 1920
1900s A New Era
describes a progression from courtly steps as a democratic and
fun-seeking society expresses the emotions of a new era by interpreting
music in smooth flowing dances based on the natural walk.
1900 James Finnigan of Manchester
"James Finnigan devises the Military
Two Step. He is also the first President of the
Manchester and Salford Association of Teachers of Dancing, founded in
1903, and his grand-daughter still teaches dancing.
1911 Jazz, Syncopation and Ragtime
Irving Berlin composes Alexander's
"... it became fashionable in
Paris, and later in London, to have 'Tango
parties' in drawing-rooms. They also began
introducing dancing couples into restaurants, and [George Grossmith]
was one of the first among the ordinary people watching to get up with a
lady and dance between the tables. Other spectators followed suit."
1914 Vernon and Irene Castle
"People can say what they like about rag-time. The Waltz is beautiful,
the Tango is graceful. One can sit quietly and listen with pleasure to
them all; but when a good orchestra plays a rag one has simply got to move."
Castle, Vernon and Irene "ModernDancing"
"1914 - The Foxtrot first danced in UK, described by a contemporary as
'very rollicking, and has a tendency to put
everyone in a good humour'."
"When war came, the most popular form of relaxation for the
men on leave was a dance... The fascinating lilt of the Foxtrot tunes
and the informal nature of the steps appealed so much that in a few
months the Foxtrot swept all other dances except the Rag off the
"Foxtrot has an eponymous hero, Harry Fox, who was among the first to
introduce it to the vaudeville stage, but the suggestion it was named
after the gait or pace of the horse, known in the West as 'Foxtrot', is
"...one prominent teacher, in reply to a request for a definition of
the basic Foxtrot steps, wrote at the time: 'There are but two things
to remember; first a slow walk, two counts to a step; second a trot or
a run, one count to each step.'"