Dancing, to many, is a form of expression, an excuse to let loose and forget about life’s worries. It can be said that dancing has carried people through many difficult and harsh times throughout the ages, especially during WWII.
We take a look at how dancing has shaped and inspired people during WWII.
During the Nazi regime, Aryan children between the ages of 10 and 17 in Germany were encouraged to join the Hitler Youth. The leaders of the organisation realised that they could use social dancing as a way to recruit new members. Teens were encouraged to take part in new-German community dances instead of swinging, a dance that was viewed as degenerate.
Instead, the initiative proved unsuccessful because, as with rebels today, the teens started flocking to swing dance joints. The authorities called them Swing-Heinis. The Swing Kids rebelled against the decorum of the Hitler Youth and started dancing in private quarters, clubs, rented halls and, more commonly, at Café Heinze.
The political spirit of the swing youth were shaped by the violent domination of the Gestapo and Hitlerjugend in 1941. As a result, people under 21 were forbidden to go to dance bars. Did that stop them though?
In 1947, Japan introduced a ban known as “fuzoku” or “fueiho” that defined dance clubs as adult entertainment establishments. Said clubs were required to have a special license and venues were typically subject to a 1 am curfew and a ban on dancing.
The ban on spontaneous dancing lasted until 2015 when electronic music pioneer, Ryuichi Sakamoto, led a campaign against the ban. Venue owners now have the option to apply for permits to operate as “Night Time Entertainment Restaurant Operations” however these establishments must be located outside of residential areas and must meet specific lighting requirements.
Audrey Hepburn helped fight against the Axis Powers during World War II. Audrey’s mother moved her family to the Netherlands in 1939 under the mistaken belief that the Netherlands wouldn’t be drawn into war conflict.
The country was occupied by the Germans in 1940. Hepburn’s uncle was executed in 1944 and one of her brothers went into hiding while the other was placed in a labour camp. As an accomplished ballerina by age 14, she started dancing to aid the Dutch resistance. She would dance in secret productions to raise money for the resistance. She also ran messages for the resistance on several occasions.
It’s amazing to think how much dancing has grown as a form of expression and rebellion throughout the ages. It got people in trouble during war times but it also created some of the most exciting revolutions and memories of the ages.
Many people have rebelled against harsh times through dance. Who knows how dancing will inspire the next generations? Why not begin the next revolution now and join Fred Astaire Roodepoort today? Your first lesson will be on us and you’ll be able to learn a new hobby and socialise without the threat of persecution. 😉