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…
Apache (circ. 1910)
Dancehall Jazz Dancing (1914)
There is some very charleston, shag and swing like elements here!