Did You Know…? Part 1. Dancing Facts That Will Surprise You

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


1. Who did the world’s first radio broadcast of live music?

No, it wasn’t Rick Dees. Surprisingly, it was Arthur Murray! He received quite a bit of national coverage in 1920 by instigating the world’s first radio broadcast of live dance music. Using students from Georgia Tech, he arranged to have a campus radio station transmit music to his students a few miles away.








2. Where did Viennese Waltz originate?

This is an easy one… Vienna, right? Wrong. The Viennese waltz originally comes from Bavaria and used to be called the “German”. It dates all the way back to the 12th/13th centuries, and was found in the dance called “Nachtanz”. However, an article in the Paris magazine, “La Patrie” (The Fatherland), on January 17, 1882, claimed that the Waltz was first danced in Paris in 1178. It was not under the name Waltz, but as the Volta from the Provence. Boy, I’m sure glad I cleared that one up!

3. What was the longest running television commercial?

“Arthur Murray Dance Party” was broadcast on CBS, NBC, and ABC. The show earned a place in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest running television commercial after being on the air for over a decade, from 1950-1962. It sounds like Arthur Murray was once again ahead of his time, because today, that might be better known as an infomercial.











4. How did Lindy Hop get its name?

There are many debates over the origins of the name ‘Lindy Hop’, and there are 3 popular accounts of how the name originated:

1. The slang of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a “Lindy” was a young woman. The word “hop” was documented as early as 1913 as a term for swing dancing. This was also a term used by early Texas Tommy dancers to describe the basic move for their dance.

2. Dancer “Shorty” George Snowden renamed the breakaway dance as the Lindy Hop, during a dance contest at the Manhattan Casino in Harlem. During the contest, “as he remembers it – Snowden decided to do a breakaway, that is, fling his partner out and improvise a few solo steps of his own. In the midst of the monotony of the marathon, the effect was electric, and even the musicians came to life…Fox Movietone News arrived to cover the marathon and decided to take a close-up of Shorty’s feet”. An interviewer then asked him, “What are you doing with your feet? Without stopping, [Snowden] replied ‘The Lindy'”.

3. Remember the famous transatlantic airplane flight in 1927? Whether Shorty George knew it or not, Lindy Hop was associated with “Lindy”, which was Charles Lindbergh’s nickname. Apparently the reporter interviewing Snowden tied the name to Charles Lindbergh to gain publicity and further his story. The association between the aviator, George Snowden and the dance continues in Lindy Hop folklore.

Now that you’ve heard all 3 sides of the story, which one do you believe?

5. Did Arthur Murray teach anyone famous?

It was quite a prestigious thing to Ballroom dance, and Arthur Murray had an elite client list. He has taught the Kennedy’s, Rockefellers, Bob Hope, Johnny Carson, Merv Griffin, Jane Fonda, and Katherine Hepburn, just to name a few.








 Check back for more installments of “Did You Know…?” 


Christy Melgoza

Arthur Murray Dance Studio Owner,

Certified Adjudicator, and Mother of Two

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