Social Life

After World War II and popularity of the Swing, American social dancing changed into bands of bebop and cool jazz.

But teenagers still liked to dance.  Teens’ dancing during the 1950s was widely varied in steps and styling.  Most of it was still swing-based, but swing had been diverging into local styles and regional variations each decade for thirty years.  
One incentive for new variations was the rebelliousness of the time — teens didn’t want to dance like their parents who were actively disapproving of their lifestyle, so they invented a wide range of step and style replacements.  Another motivation for change was the music.  Rock’n’roll simply called for different styles of dancing, some of which mirrored the strong backbeat of rock.

Terminology was just as varied as the dancing.  This was called jitterbug, or swing, Lindy, the rock’n’roll, boogie-woogie or Bop.  The word Bop was new then so almost everything was called “the Bop,” but that word usually referred to a family of low swiveling Charleston-like steps danced in place, sometimes without a partner.

The increasingly wide regional diversification of dance styles reversed on August 5, 1957, when Clark convinced ABC to broadcast his show nationally, becoming American Bandstand.  Suddenly teens from coast to coast were seeing and copying the way the kids in Philadelphia danced, and that regional style soon became a national dance style.  Three years later, the same thing would happen with the Twist, and from then on teenagers got most their dances from television.











Many of the quaint rituals of dating in the 1950′s show common courtesy that is lacking today. Would you like to see any of these rules brought back?

Dating Etiquette for Girls

  • Only floozies ask guys out.
  • When someone asks you out, it’s polite to give an immediate answer.
  • Never break a date without providing a valid reason.
  • There’s no such thing as fashionably late; be ready when your date arrives.
  • It’s only proper to introduce your date to your parents.
  • Don’t apply makeup in public (please see first point).
  • At a restaurant, it’s ladylike to tell a date what you want for dinner, so he can order for you.
  • Don’t humiliate guys by trying to pay for a date.

Dating Etiquette for Guys

  • Dates aren’t like cramming for exams; don’t wait until the last minute to ask a girl out.
  • It’s poor form to honk the car horn to announce your arrival; call for her at the door.
  • Ask her parents when they want her home — and make sure your watch works.
  • It’s only polite to help her don her coat.
  • Real gentlemen open car doors for girls — or any door, for that matter.
  • It’s chivalrous to walk between her and the curb.
  • Bring enough money along.
  • No kissing on the first date.
  • On prom night, don’t leave the corsage in the fridge.

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