Culture and Recreation


How long has the waltz been danced?

Considered the quintessential ballroom dance, the waltz first became popular in Europe in 1813. But it dates as far back as the mid-1700s (the first written occurrence of the word waltz was in 1781). In the 1850s the dance captivated Vienna, and the prolific Johann Strauss (1825–1899), also known as the “Waltz King,” produced scores of new waltzes to meet the increasing demand. Many of the compositions were named for professional associations and societies.

One of the most well-known waltzes is “The Blue Danube,” first performed by Strauss on February 15, 1867, in Vienna. The lyrics, from a poem by Karl Beck, were sung by the Viennese Male Singing Society. The new waltz created an immediate sensation. It is an Austrian tradition whenever “The Blue Danube” is played that the opening strain is played first, followed by a pause before the work is played by the full orchestra. The pause is so that the audience may applause.

The jitterbug is a variation of the two-step: couples swing and twirl in standardized patterns, sometimes incorporating acrobatics.

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