No, it wasn’t bad breath that caused Marie Micholowsky to pass clean out in her brother Frank’s arms. Believe it or not, this image was snapped at HOUR 3327 into a Chicago dance marathon. The seated woman shares my sentiment exactly. Girl, what were you thinking?
Now most of us have heard of dance marathons, especially popular during the 20s and 30s. But did you know that some lasted for weeks, even months? This particular one began on August 29, 1930 and ended in 1931. And yes, they did get intervals in which to nap. But can you imagine having started dancing TWO WEEKS AGO, only to ultimately finish next January? I guess these couples didn’t have jobs? Or families?
This next pair had the benefit of not being siblings in embrace, but you can see the pickle petite Anna Lawanick is in, having to support slumbering Jack Ritof, aka the failure.
What had begun as opportunities for the glow of youth to show its endurance and immortality eventually morphed into the exploitation of those who desperately needed the cash reward given to the last couple standing. As you can see, the onlookers (who paid an entrance fee to gawk) kept their eyes on the dance floor.
But what of the pain in their feet? Rules often allowed for one partner to visit the restroom or nap as long as the other partner continued dancing, so the feet were only briefly spared their dancing duties. The contestants below received medical attention for their tootsies during a Madison Square Garden marathon in June of 1928, where the prize was $5000, more than an average annual income.
Spectacle it was, as folks pushed themselves past the point of exhaustion, and in the case of Homer Morehouse, heart failure at the age of 27.
The predecessor to today’s reality shows or movies like Hands On A Hard Body, dance marathons proved both cruel and entertaining. Ultimately, the fad passed as fads do, and Americans moved on to the next big thing.
We attended a local festival this weekend with the typical overpriced $18 afternoon “unlimited ride” band that only applied to several rides and did not include the $7 bouncy jumpy rope thing that we passed with seething resentment. It also did not include any games, many of which were $5 for three tries (at darts or hitting the sledgehammer, etc). We did pony up $4 for berry lemonade, but not $7 for funnel cake. And certainly not $5 for a pony ride.
How about you? Would you pony up for a pony? Or would you rather spend that money on a camel ride? A pair of camels split the shift. This one was on break but still suited up.
This was the shortest line we saw of the dozens of fairground lines.
I guess riding a camel isn’t quite as exciting as Pharaoh’s Fury or the Zipper (from which 99% of the ride screams came). And I doubt it’s on anyone’s bucket list. But at least you can say you did it once.
Stephanie and Deidre from Highland Heights Elementary enjoy the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in 1969.
This could never happen now; they don’t teach cursive in schools any more. But back in the 1920s, Harry Kahne–“The Man with the Multiple Mind”–showed off his penmanship while dangling from the Majestic Theatre in Houston. Crowds gathered to witness the blood rush to his head as he scribbled patriotic lyrics. Don’t worry; he didn’t die until decades later in 1955.