Social dancing in the 1950s was big, teenagers liked to dance. Partner dancing was still very popular with Swing dancing, Lindy Hop, Bebop and American Cool Jazz dancing setting the scene with Rock 'n' Roll, Boogie-Woogie or Bop reflecting the musical changes mirroring the strong backbeat of rock. It was a strong vibrant social scene based around partner dancing and inventive dance styles that reflected changing music. Social rebelliousness resulted in the growth of a wide range of step and style replacements.
This is in stark contrasts with today's dance scene reflected in the program, as the presenter Jack Murphy - a renowned choreographer - visited the local bars and pubs of Bolton to find empty dance floors. Palais de Danse was turned into a discotheque in the late 1970s and now lies abandoned and in a state of decline.
Its a tough challenge for Jack as he seeks to get the people of Bolton to dance arm in arm and waltz, tango and jive once again. According to the BBC, “Jack believes the act of dancing arm in arm beats a boozy night down the pub, but will the Bolton lads 'n' lasses agree?"
It's going to be interesting to see. After last nights show it seems that his main recruits are some of the original patrons who last danced at the Palais in the late 1950s. Maybe it makes for good TV but the real challenge is getting younger people to take up social partner dancing.
The changing face of Britain's nightlife
What's really interesting is the vibrant social scene now lost to a host of British cities where discos and clubs are closing at an unprecedented rate. Lack of investment, drug taking, binge drinking and violence inside and outside the venues has made many dance clubs and discos an unattractive places for young people to meet and socialise. It's a stark contract to the earlier glory days.
Compare this to a confident, vibrant music and social dancing scene in the 1950s where many of the dance styles were driven by the music of the times, shipped over from the USA, copying the way the kids in America danced. American TV shows popularised new dance styles in the USA such as the Twist which became a dance sensation in the early 1960s. Chubby Checker's 'The Twist' became a top selling single in the UK and the dance became the rage.
Social dancing is probably the best fun you can have with your clothes on, and it's a great way to meet people and socialise. Having fun is the main aim, learning to dance is the fun part. Watching Strictly Come Dancing is fun but it has a negative aspect, in that it makes it seem almost unachievable to many.
Lets see what happens in Part 2, it's going to be interesting! Will Jack convince the people of Bolton to get back into social partner dancing? And more importantly is it sustainable? He has a 2 month lease on the building, so it looks like it may need more than just a new dance floor! Is Jack up to the challenge?
How can I find a social dancing class
You don't need to go to Bolton to find social dancing. If you visit Dance Near You, you can search for the social dancing venues and instructors in your area. All you need to do is enter your postcode into our search and then leave an enquiry with one of our fantastic dance instructors or dance studios. There are thousands of dance classes available, so you'll be sure to find something that suits you.
You Make Me Feel Like Dancing BBC TV series
The show first aired on the 5th of January on BBC 2 and is currently available on BBC Iplayer. Part two airs on the 7th January on BBC 2 at 9pm.