From the Ballroom to Hell

I found this excerpt on Futility Closet's blog here.

T.A. Faulkner was once a dancing master, proprietor of the Los Angeles Dancing Academy, and the President of the Dancing Masters' Association of the Pacific Coast. But no more. Despite this distinguished career in dancing, he had a change of heart when, apparently, his sister "died a victim of one of these human vultures infesting the dancing schools and ball rooms of our land" (as he wrote in his 1916 book, The Lure of the Dance).

His first publication on the matter came in 1892, when he wrote his most well-known book From the Ballroom to Hell. A rather bawdy excerpt reads:

"She is now in the vile embrace of the Apollo of the evening. Her head rests upon his shoulder, her face is upturned to his, her bare arm is almost around his neck, her partly nude swelling breast heaves tumultuously against his, face to face they whirl on, his limbs interwoven with hers, his strong right arm around her yielding form, he presses her to him until every curve in the contour of her body thrills with the amorous contact.

"Her eyes look into his, but she sees nothing; the soft music fills the room, but she hears it not; he bends her body to and fro, but she knows it not; his hot breath, tainted with strong drink, is on her hair and cheek, his lips almost touch her forehead, yet she does not shrink; his eyes, gleaming with a fierce, intolerable lust, gloat over her, yet she does not quail. She is filled with the rapture of sin in its intensity; her spirit is inflamed with passion and lust is gratified in thought. With a last low wail the music ceases, and the dance for the night is ended, but not the evil work of the night." (16-17)

He also asks (and I'm not positive which of his volumes this is in) "Would you like your parents, your friends, and people for whom you have the highest respect and whose favor you wish to secure and retain, know what your thoughts and feelings were while engaged in the dance?"

A final excerpt:

"She hears her companion order a bottle of wine opened . . . One glass and then another, and the brain . . . is whirling and giddy. The vile wretch . . . whispers in her ear many soft and foolish lies . . .

"The wine has done its work.

"When she awakens next morning, it is in a strange room . . . [H]e who has brought all this upon her has promised to right the wrong by marriage . . . but such trifles as this he thinks nothing of; it is too common an occurrence about the ball-room. Days grow into months, and now added sorrow fills her cup . . . She is to become a mother, and the girl cries out in bitter anguish, "My God; what shall I do; must I commit murder! Oh! that I had never entered a ball-room."

Jesus Christ, you guys. It is amazing his stuff ever got published. This is pretty in-your-face for 1892. And also ludicrous. He's like the angry minister dad on Footloose. JUST LET THE KIDS DANCE, IT PROBABLY WON'T END IN TEARS.

The thing that also amuses me is the pornographic nature of his writing. It's counter-intuitive. If people get all hot and bothered reading this (especially the young girls for whom the text was designed), it seems more likely that they're going to WANT to find a ballroom so they can get felt-up. Apart from the unwed, grieving mother part at the end, he really isn't making this sound too awful.

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