Health and Dancing

This article originally appeared in the Waverly (NY) Sun in 1931. The author, John Joseph Gaines, M.D. was, in all likelihood, serious.

The family physician should, above all things, be a normal man. He has, it seems to me, opportunity to make his influence felt in many ways, not inconsistent with practice of medicine, to make his youthful patrons better men and women. I am afraid many times the doctor doesn't speak out, in the fear of offending some of his most prominent clients; particularly so it has been in the matter of the dance. So many of our very best patients sanction it.

Nevertheless, if an act or deed contains a strong element of hidden vice, the physician should be outspoken against it; for no one should know better than he, the damage often done by indulgence in things that are pleasing, but hold dangerous poison.

In this letter, I shall fortify myself behind known authorities; I shall confine myself to the opinions of other men, rather than assume any dictatorship on my own part. I have no desire to attain a point of notoriety in this matter of grave concern, but I may say that I endorse the authorities quoted.

Dancing and purity are not incompatible-there are too many proofs of that to be denied; but, in these scurring days, a warning is not out of place, it seems to me. So here they are: "Those churches in recent times which resolutely set themselves against the pastime are wiser in their generation than is commonly supposed."

"ALL dancing excites the passions-those modern creations known as glides, two-steps, waltzes, and rag-time patter-have as their ultimate tendency, the breakdown of religious restraint, and the free exercise of sexual liberty..."

Mind you, this is not propaganda-it is medically recorded as scientific fact. It would not be printed here, the history of the dance as indulged by races of men from time immemorial; the early Albigenses of Languedoc called dancing, "the devil's procession." I could quote from many volumes here-space forbids; let me say, concluding, that there are many forms of exercise for our young peoples health. This without prejudice.

[Actually, it is hard to argue with the facts as presented in this article. Dancing remained popular in spite of Dr. Gaines' efforts and, partly as a result, our current social climate leads us to different conclusions based on the same facts. Hey, dancing is fun! - Ed.]

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Author:Ted Crane
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