Waltzes from Chicago, 1931

In 1931 British Pathé, a wonderful source of historic newsreels and documentaries, filmed a celebration of Chicago oldsters dancing to a German oompha band.  Reader Davrie Caro sent me the short clip, which you can see in its entirety here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FGdwOJHRaeM. All of the dancers were over 80 years old.  If you watch the film all the way through, you’ll notice that not all the dances were waltzes.

There is so much to say about the women’s clothing!  Skirt lengths had fallen by 1931, but they were still quite a bit shorter than most of the dancers are wearing.  A glance at the background shows quite a difference between the outfits of the older and younger women. 

In fact, it looks like some have on very old clothes, or at least clothes that had no resemblance to the current style.  The woman above, in what looks like an unbelted wrapper dress, even has on the lace up boots that were popular in the teens.  Maybe she needed the ankle support to dance.  And speaking of shoes, in the background of the photo above you get a quick look at those strappy shoes in vogue in the 1920s.

Notice the many frilly collars, a number made of lace.  There are all kinds of textiles on display, from plain colors to larger prints.  Many wear what looks like white, or at least a very light shade. Polka dots are also in evidence!  The silk looking dress above, with dots woven into the fabric, is my very favorite.  It seems to glisten when she dances.  And doesn’t she have a very spry partner?

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