Going to the Palais: a social and cultural history of dancing and dance halls in Britain, 1918-1960

Research output: Book/ReportBook


From the mid-1920s, the dance hall occupied a pivotal place in the culture of working- and lower-middle-class communities in Britain—a place rivalled only by the cinema and eventually to eclipse even that institution in popularity. This book examines the history of this vital social and cultural institution, exploring the dances, dancers, and dance venues at the heart of one of twentieth-century Britain’s most significant leisure activities. Going to the Palais explores the expansion of the dance hall industry and the development of a mass audience for dancing, both a result of social and economic improvements and the hard work of a handful of talented businessmen such as Mecca’s Carl Heimann. The impact of these changes on individuals and communities is also examined. Particularly important, dancing played a significant role in female emancipation across the twentieth century. Similarly, here young people were able to express an increasingly distinctive identity. Not that such changes were universally welcomed. Thus, an assessment of wider reactions to dance halls and dancing in the period is made, highlighting a sustained moral panic based on supposed links between dance and immorality, changing gender boundaries, and hooliganism. There was also a racial dimension to criticism of dancing. Dance was vital to the spread of racial stereotypes in Britain and most Britons had their first meaningful encounters with people of a different race in the dance hall. Issues of national identity are also explored via a wider examination of the cultural impact of dancing and dance halls.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages327
ISBN (Electronic)9780191754258
ISBN (Print)9780199605194, 9780198866633
Publication statusPublished - 3 Sept 2015


Dive into the research topics of 'Going to the Palais: a social and cultural history of dancing and dance halls in Britain, 1918-1960'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this