Tuesday, November 22, 2022

A Surprising Explanation

When I was in fourth grade, out of nowhere, the P.E. coach told us we'd be doing a six-week module on square dancing. 

I had an immediate wtf moment. So did everyone else. 

It made no sense, but I had a huge crush on Jacqueline Baron, and through some unlikely magic, she was assigned to be my dance partner. I was in! 

I was not in. 

Regardless, I never forgot that strange six weeks, and always wondered why it happened. 

Today, I saw a story that made me realize square dancing was taught all over the country. The mystery deepened. 

Thanks to Google, I now know what happened. And it's way, way stranger than you'd ever imagine. Brace yourself.

Henry Ford (well-known racist and anti-Semite in his spare time) believed that jazz music was undermining the American family and would ruin "white people." He also believed that "the Jews" were manipulating black people into playing jazz with the secret goal of destroying the country. 

Um, okay. 

To counteract this, Henry Ford promoted square dancing as a "wholesome" alternative that would save our country's morals. He formed committees and foundations and gave tons of money to legislators to convince them to add square dancing as mandatory in the P.E. curriculum. 

This all happened in the 1920s. 

Over forty years later, my ass got taught square dancing for six weeks because square dancing was never removed from the curriculum. Bizarre.

This is a good and funny video: The Surprisingly Racist Origins Of Square Dancing In Gym Class.

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