Many of our favorite dances – tango, fox trot, swing, charleston – have their roots in early 1900 dances.  While we live in a world of streaming video at our fingertips, however, when these dances were in their infancy people had to go to a  ballroom or the movie theater (cinema or Nickelodeon) to learn the new dance craze…and without sound!   Sure there may have been a music accompaniment, but try sitting in a theater all day (after you’ve paid a days wage) to see the same clip repeated twice and hope you caught the basic steps.

Here are a few neat clips of social dancing featured in silent films…

Cakewalk (1900)

Apache (circ. 1910)

Dancehall Jazz Dancing (1914)

There is some very charleston, shag and swing like elements here!

Fox Trot(1914)

Castle Maxixe (1915)

Our Dancing Daughters (1928)

Louise Brooks in Pandora’s Box (1929)