THE PERILS OF DANCE HALLS
In 1929, the U.S. Children's Bureau (part of the Department of Labor) commissioned Ella Gardner to explore "the legal machinery with which communities are endeavoring to protect young people from the evils of the unregulated commercial dance hall." Gardner's report revealed that 28 states had laws on the operation of public dances, and analyzed ordinances from 416 U.S. cities. Most regulations controlled the licensing of dances; banned minors; prohibited the sale of alcohol; and demanded that dance halls be lit for decency. However, a Times article from the same year noted some of the more rococo rules: Kansas allowed no unescorted woman within the dance halls; Port Arthur, Texas, proscribed gyrations not approved by the National Association of Dancing Masters; no man was permitted to rigadoon with another in Muskegon, Wisconsin; at Lincoln, Nebraska, patrons were required to keep their bodies at least 6 inches apart at all times; and at Three Enid, Oklahoma, censors could halt a public dance at any time.
"Lisa was hardly hochgeboren; you could tell by her accent."