I've been telling a lot of students in the last year about an article clipping I had read from the Wall Street Journal, published circa March, 2013. Another student had brought a clipping of it to me and I was very surprised. I finally found the article, and I am putting a link up for it.

How the Tax Man cleared the Dance Floor. Be sure to click the Read More link below for a little of my own take on this, as well as my surprise.


(I also managed to save a digital copy of the article should this link ever bust or demands a subscription to read it. Shhhh...)

I used to think that ballroom dancing just fell out of fad. People got bored with it and wanted something new. Oh, ho! Not so!! Turns out that an original "cabaret tax" that was 20%, then 30% on all receipts in establishments that provided food, drink and allowed dancing targeting more upper-crest and swankier establishments, was the beginning of the end. It turns out the Bureau of Internal Revenue expanded the definition of "cabaret" to include practically any venue where social dancing was common - outside of instrumental and mechanical (jukebox) music playing venues.

In short, any hotel, restaurant, hall or other public place where music or dancing privileges or any other entertainment..." 30% of all revenue from so many different types of establishments. Unreal!

The solution? A "No Dancing until after dinner" policy. And another... don't hire big bands any more! Let's go freeform jazz! Can't really dance to that. So begins "bebop". The tax remained until 1965, but from 1944 to 1965, big bands were just too expensive and quite literally unemployable. That's practically two generations that lost the art of big band ballroom due to the tax. What did people do instead? The Twist and all the other forms of freestyle dancing they could get away with.

Ballroom didn't fall out of custom, it just got way too expensive for venues to do anymore.

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