Tag Archives: conversation walk

Jabber Jazz: 1921


flapper in motion 1920


Trot and Talk, but Don’t Forget the Conversation.

Chicago, Aug. 7 Now for the jabber jazz. The latest thing in dances for this fall is called the “conversation walk.”

Girls may nibble the complexion off their lips but they will have to talk to dance the new step.

The new dance has been planned for the country by the American National Association of Dancing Masters and was described today by Miss Florence Reid, instructor of an exclusive dancing school here.

When the jazz band starts the dance will go like this:

You greet your partner and move slowly down the floor talking in time with the music.

“Nice weather we are having.”

“I’ll say it is.”

Next you balance forward and back fox trot to the northeast, switch to a one step and resume:

“This bobbed hair fad is the cutest yet.”

“Sure, it’s got me cuckoo.”

Then you fox trot again, any direction you want to, but don’t forget to keep up the talk.

Of course a good dancer will memorize a verse of bright remarks and use them on each dancing partner in turn. They’ll not know the difference unless you dance with the same person twice.

“I don’t think the new dances are nice” Miss Reid added after explaining the “conversation walk.”

“The couples dance—ah—so close, you know, and so slow. This ‘conversation walk’ demands more vocal skill than terpsichorean dexterity.

“The new toddle dance of the season will be named ‘Chicago.’ It will be one of the big hits. It eliminates the horrid ‘Frisco step,’ which some cabaret patrons now use. I like the new ‘Culture dance’ best. It eliminates the toddling in the fox trot.”

“Yes,” said Richard Kandler, owner of several dancing schools, “we must insist this winter on graceful dancing. The music, too, will be without the barbaric jazz. The swinging beauty of the old-time polka must return. It is a symptom of returning sanity after war hysteria.”

Plain Dealer [Cleveland, oh] 8 August 1921: p. 5

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Mrs Daffodil believes that the fad was short-lived. After all, the entire purpose of ball-room dancing is to foster the illusion of intimacy, while eliminating actual conversation between the sexes.

The new dance had passionate advocates on both sides of the question:

But What If You Can’t Think of a Darn Thing to Say?

CHICAGO. Aug. 6. Well it’s here and what do you propose to do about it? It is the “jabber jazz” and it goes with bobbed hair and skirts to and above the knees and a scandalous lack of underwear.

The inventor of the new dance, if such contortions can be dignified by that title, calls it the “conversation walk” and it has some vehement backers among the dancing teachers. They argue that it eliminates the horrid “Frisco step,” which still is used by some cabaret patrons. It also takes the toddle out of the fox trot.

It may be said in defense of the “jabber-jazz” that it is less like a violent attack of St. Vitus’ dance than any recent movement. It lacks the spasmodic shudders and it is not essential that the dancers should be glued together.

Briefly, one greets one’s partner and they amble down the floor, talking all the time. Then they balance forward, fox trot a step or two, shift their gum to the other cheek, do a one-step tempo and resume the walk and conversation. It is all very well for those who have to indulge in such antics, but to old fashioned dancers of the waltz and redowa and schottische, the “jabber-jazz” looks like something the cat dragged in.

Pittsburgh [PA] Daily Post 7 August 1921: p. 6

If one wanted to look on the dance floor like something the cat dragged in, Mrs Daffodil can recommend the “Kitty Trot,” a dance sensation of 1919.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.