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1920 Dance Moves (Clockwise Left to Right): The Black Bottom, the Grizzly Bear, The Fox Trot and the Charleston. Rather than vanish under its own weight, the new jazz dancing only grew. By the time the Charleston appeared in the early 1920s, the dance’s shimmying body movements and wild leg flings led to an open public outcry. By 1923, Professor Brownell was forced to call a halt to the night dances at Gilroy HIgh School. He complained that the parents were too busy to come and help chaperone. He was left to patrol the hallways and basement of the gym alone, to flush out wayward youth that had strayed off the dance floor. It became particularly trying when young men with cars took their dance partners out to the parking lot to sit and neck. While her parents thought she was safely chaperoned inside the school gym, a foolish young girl might actually slip away by 10:00 PM and not arrive home until 1:00 AM, he noted. In November 1924, the Gilroy City Council responded, enacting an ordinance restricting activities at public dances. Under the new regulations, no one under age 18 could attend unless accompanied by a par- ent or guardian. Dances were to end at 1:00 am, and no adult beverages would be brought, or served, no matter what. The new ordinance would also shut out the undesirables who might come from out of town. Thus the tone, Gilroyans were assured, would be kept decorous. “Far be it from us to be a censor of public dances, but if the dear mothers and fathers could see some of the things that have been pulled off lately, they would organize a shotgun squad and never let their daughters out without a chaperone,” the local editor declared. City Council regulations notwithstand- ing, the dance craze continued in Gilroy and elsewhere. After the Charleston came the Black Bottom, a rage that had begun in New Orleans in 1926 before spreading across the country. The dance moves fea- tured foot stamping, slapping the backside, and hopping to and fro, while gyrating the torso. Women’s panties made from black silk or satin became a new fashion item during the era. At-home piano sheet music included dance step instructions so folks GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015 could practice before heading out. Another fad dance, the Lindy Hop, was named for celebrated aviator Charles Lindbergh. The dance later evolved into the Jitterbug and was a forerunner of Swing. In little Gilroy, while the town’s moral guardians kept watch on the young, most of the era’s wilder dances passed into his- tory. An exception was the Fox Trot, which first appeared on the scene about 1913. The dance became a standard that persists in popularity today. But the public was advised to never let down its guard in supervising the local dances. In 1912, the Editor’s stern warn- ing struck a common chord, “Another thing that should never be allowed is the extinguishing of lights while the dance is in progress. That also savors too much of the shady side of life.” To the pure minded who prided them- selves in being part of decent society, that slippery slope, even dancing in the dark to the gramophone at home, was probably best avoided by all. gmhtoday.com 47