World War 2 Stories for Sheffield

                         Derek Feather 

Dancing during the War

By Actiondesk Sheffield

People in story: Derek Feather
Location of story: Yorkshire Dales
Background to story: Civilian


Dancing during the War

Derek Feather

I was born in 1935 and the subject I would like to discuss is about dancing.

So, you might ask, what did I know about dancing during the war, as I was only 9 years old when the war finished.

Well, one evening a few years ago, I was dancing with a lady a lot of years older than myself, when she remarked to a friend that she was dancing with a good dancer. The other person answered by telling her that it was Milly's lad. After a long silence she remarked, "I remember you during the war, we used to say how disgraceful it was to fetch such young children to a dance."

The first steps I can remember are the Bang Bang of the feet in the 4h bar of the St Bernard's Waltz. My first dance was the Barn Dance; I can remember a lady grabbing hold of my hand and saying, "I have a man." In the waltz, as I progressed around the hall, some of the ladies, to my annoyance, picked me up.

I am writing this because I am fed up of watching programmes on the T.V., and hearing about other organisations, showing periods during the war, as if there was nothing else, other than Glen Miller and the Jive, and yet, at the dances I went to the bands comprised of a cello, violin, a piano and drums, and sometimes an accordion band.

The dances, as far as I can remember, were old time dances like the St Bernard's Waltz, Doris Waltz, Veleta, Pride of Erin, Boston and Military Two step Maxina, Eva three step, Dinky One Step etc., plus the Foxtrot, Quickstep, Modern Waltz, Cokey Cokey, Palais Glide, Congo, and sometimes the Lances.

As a Dedicated qualified old time dancing teacher and an area rep. for the old time dancing society, who ran 3 to 4 dances a week, I have checked on what I remember of a lot of the dancers. Many of them were in their 20's and a few in their 30's during the war, and all agree that the media has got it wrong.

Unfortunately the film archives seems not to have any recode of the 1000's of dances that raised a vast amount of money for the war effort, only the ‘Yankified’ ones.

I would like to conclude that old time dancing, in a form of old time or 50-50 dances, became so popular during the war, that more people after the war danced on a Saturday night than went and watched sport. It was not until 1953 and the coronation which attracted a lot of people to purchase a goggle box, that the decline in the local dances started.

After a weekend of dancing and discussing with the people at the dance, I have written this second report.

I am sending a copy to the Old Time Dancing Society and am suggesting that they play their part in their magazine, by asking their members to put pen to paper and put a massive injustice right.

One gentleman that danced in Hull confirmed my report, and a couple that danced in the north of the Dales mentioned dances like the Chrysanthemum and the Kings Waltz plus the Ideal Scottische and the odd modern ballroom dance, where the ones came in from the pub.

Mary from Giggleswick who danced in the Colne, Nelson area and worked in the cotton mills, was a keen cyclists and she pedalled all the way to York and Redcar at weekends to be with her husband. She confirmed that in all the places, the dancing was the same and only at some dances around the Yanks' site at Warrington, did they do that sort of stuff.

D. Feather. M.B.AT.D.