Full Dance Card or Foxtrotting the Depression


ALBUQUERQUE, United States

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The “official” number of families living in poverty in the current U.S. depression is the highest in decades. Will Dance Marathons become revived if only to feed the poor…. Bread and Circuses 2015 : I show the price as $1 to allow for inflation from the previous 25 cent fee.

Endurance Marathons, an American phenomenon of the 1920s and 1930s, were human endurance contests in which couples danced almost non-stop for hundreds of hours (as long as a month or two), competing for prize money. The marathons persisted throughout the 1930s as partially staged performance events, mirroring the marathon of desperation Americans endured during the Great Depression.

Most marathon promoters fed contestants 12 times a day — oatmeal, eggs, toast, oranges, milk, etc. Couples had to continue the shuffling dance motion while they ate the humble but filling meals. These meals were served at a chest-high table since the contestants ate standing up. Twelve meals a day during the Great Depression was a powerful inducement to many.

Coins were tossed at audience “favorites” but very few couples won any prizes and most who did were part of the rigged process.

Source: The Free Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History

~ Assemblage: brown envelope, satin ribbon, original “Fortune” magazine cover, varied color scraps of paper; photographed in natural light.

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  • mmargot
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