by Chris Carlsson
Arcadia Dance Pavilion, 1910s, at Eddy and Jones.
Photo: Courtesy Randy Shaw
Cartoon from San Francisco Examiner, 1917.
Image: SFPD scrapbook, San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library
The Grizzly Bear, Bunny Hug, and Kangaroo Dip encouraged close body contact. Songwriters such as Irving Berlin began telling dancers to “Hug up close to your baby,” and “Everybody’s doin’ it.” Then South American dances, such as the “Argentine Tango,” became the rage, with its medley of dips and glides that suggested sexual conquest. These new styles proved irresistible, especially to the young… investigators frequently reported “indecent” dances, such as “Walkin’ the Dog,” “Shaking the Shimmy,” and the “Stationary Wiggle,” yet the authorities did nothing… San Francisco prohibited “marathon” dance contests. … Several cities funded supervised dance platforms in parks or on docks during the summer. But … San Francisco clergy opposed the use of public monies to support sinful amusements.
(—quoted from Elisabeth I. Perry, “The General Motherhood of the Commonwealth”: Dance Hall Reform in the Progressive Era. American Quarterly, Vol. 37, No. 5 (Winter, 1985)
Fisher's Dancing Pavilion at Eddy and Jones Streets, c. 1920s.
Photo: courtesy Randy Shaw