Historical Newspapers & Regional Publications

This Week in Kalamazoo History

“Dignity in the Ball Room — Ragtime and Cake Walk Will Be Barred. They Destroy All the Grace and Beauty that Should Represent the Terpsichorean Art”

“Dignity and grace will characterize the ballroom dances this coming winter. The undignified ragtime and cakewalk will be strictly eliminated from programs. The ban thus put upon one-time favorite dances for amusement is the outcome of the five days’ convention of the American Society of Professors of Dancing held in Saratoga.

The dancing masters declare the ragtime type of dancing destroys all the grace and beauty which should represent the terpsichorean art and thee are loud in their denunciation of what they call a “deep-rooted evil.”
With accord they proclaimed its undesirability in the ballroom and declared they would take measures to eradicate its influence from the realm of good society. Its departure from the ranks of popularity and respectability will be supplanted by a tactical return to the slow and dignified minuet, the german, the glide polka and to the graceful glide two-step waltz.

Dancing authorities say the two-step waltz will be even more popular this season than ever before, but a careful watch will be kept lest it degenerate into the peculiar eccentricities of the ragtime. For it is claimed that the graceful two-step in its original form is always in great danger of losing its aesthetic properties through the reign of excessive ragtime. The degree of disgrace into which the two-step has fallen by the departure from its former beauty and grace had won for it the disgusted professors the well deserved title of the “bear dance.” The clumsy hop and uncommon step which frequently passes for what is termed the two-step would certainly be recognizable by the polar tribe as a reproduction of one of their play habits. 

The death of ragtime will be sounded with long drafts of relief from the dancing masters.”

— Kalamazoo Gazette, 30 September 1900

Learn more about Social Music in 19th Century Kalamazoo and the coming of Ragtime.

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The Historical Newspapers & Regional Publications database is designed to allow online keyword search of historic newspapers, photographs, and other Kalamazoo Public Library holdings that were previously only available on microfilm. Additional publications will be added as resources allow.


The Historical Newspapers & Regional Publications database includes the library’s holdings of: 

  • Kalamazoo Telegraph (1844-1916)
  • Miscellaneous Kalamazoo Publications (1864-1922)
  • (Kalamazoo) Progressive Herald (1912-13)
  • Allegan County Record (1869-71)
  • Augusta Beacon (1902-1952)
  • Climax Cereal (1900-1912)
  • Climax Crescent (1913-2012)
  • Otsego Union (1897-1922)
  • Otsego Weekly Union (1875-1888)
  • Scotts Cereal (1905-06)

...and more.

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KPL’s Local Information Database combines indexing of local newspapers, magazines, historical photos, and other Local History resources, including the Kalamazoo Gazette. Library staff add new records to this rich resource of more than one million items every day. Visit the Local Information Database.


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