Dancing through dictatorship: everyday practices and affective experiences of social dancing in Fascist Italy

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


This chapter engages with contemporary discourses on interwar dancing in Fascist Italy, and with the ‘continual oscillation between authorisation and prohibition’ that characterised the fascist regime’s policies towards dancing, but it principally focuses its attention on the social practices, lived realities and affective experiences of dancing during this time, asking how, to what, where and with what results did Italians actually dance? As such it both moves beyond the emphasis on establishment ‘moral panic’ which has typified much of the (short) Italian historiography on social dancing to date and connects the history of social dancing to the growing interest in the histories of everyday life and the lived experience of dictatorship. Using a range of contemporary diaries and memoirs, and also ‘reading against the grain’ official sources, such as the records of the administrative police who were responsible for issuing and monitoring dance hall licences, the chapter uncovers a multifaceted and dynamic social world of dancing in interwar Italy, one in which Italian dancers stepped in and out of the state’s gaze in different ways and at different times. Above all, the chapter argues that, despite the fascist dictatorship’s attempts to curb and shape social dancing in archly nationalistic terms, the actual practices, lived and affective realities and experiences of social dancing in fascist Italy operated within markedly transnational frameworks.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWorlds of social dancing
Subtitle of host publicationdance floor encounters and the global rise of couple dancing, c. 1910-40
EditorsKlaus Nathaus, James Nott
Place of PublicationManchester
PublisherManchester University Press
Number of pages26
ISBN (Electronic)9781526156266
ISBN (Print)9781526156259
Publication statusPublished - 8 Mar 2022

Publication series

NameStudies in popular culture (Manchester, England)


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