Dance

The “dance craze” of the 1920s was largely influenced by dancing trends on college campuses during the period; one of the most popular dances of the time was known as the “collegiate.”[1] Dance was a very controversial subject for college campuses in the 1920s, and proved to be a source of conflict between students and college administrations.[2] The conservative administrations believed that the modern styles of dancing, such as swing and jive, were inappropriate for students, whereas students believed that they were harmless enough, or at least that they ought to have the freedom to dance in the way that they pleased.

At Geneva specifically, dance remains a controversial subject today as no dances are permitted on campus, with the exception of folk-style dances. It is important to note, however, that not only has this been the unchanged stance of Geneva for many years, but also that in the 1920s, this stance was not at all atypical in comparison with other colleges in America.

In addition, the allowance of folk-style dances at Geneva seems to have been taken advantage of just as it is today with the current flourishing if the Contra Dance Club. In the 1926, Geneva College held a Spring Festival in the Reeves Stadium, in which an orchestra played and various groups of students were able to participate in international folk dances from many places, including England, Poland, Japan, Wales, Germany, Russia, Ireland, the Alpine Mountains, the Scottish Highlands, Greece, France, the Netherlands, and the United States of America. Despite the unchanged policy regarding dance on Geneva’s Campus since then, no attempts to fit within the loopholes of the policy today have come close to the scale of the Spring Festival in 1926.


[1] Paula S. Fass, The Damned and the Beautiful: American Youth in the 1920s, (New York: Oxford U. Press, 1977), 302.

[2] Barbara A. Schreier, Fitting In: Four Generations of College Life, (Chicago: Chicago Historical Society, 1991), 23.