Hilary French

Dec 5, 2023

Ballroom

A People’s History of Dancing

Reaktion Books 2022

In the early twentieth century, American ragtime and the Parisian tango fuelled a dancing craze in Britain. Public ballrooms were built throughout the country, providing a glamorous setting for dancing. The new English style, defined in the 1920s and followed by the films of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in the 1930s, ensured that ballroom dancing continued to be the most popular British pastime until the 1960s, rivalled only by cinema.

Ballroom: A People's History of Dancing (Reaktion, 2022) by Dr. Hilary French explores the vibrant history of ballroom and Latin dancing: the dances, lavish venues, competitions and influential instructors. It also traces the decline of couple dancing and its resurgence in recent years with the hugely popular TV shows Strictly Come Dancing and Dancing with the Stars.


This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose forthcoming book focuses on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with qualitative analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars.

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Miranda Melcher

Miranda Melcher (Ph.D., Defense Studies, Kings College, London) studies post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with deep analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars.

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