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A wild dance and green pantaloons

October 26, 2006

Oct. 26, 1921: A New York dance called the Peabody Prance showed up in Long Beach, and The Times declared the city "rudely shocked" by the steps and by the "pantaloons" worn by the woman seen performing them.

"So startled was Policewoman Straw when she witnessed the initial and unheralded exhibition of the Gotham terpsichorean craze in a local dance hall that she arrested the couple performing the maneuvers and caused them to be booked at the police station on a charge of violating the local dancing ordinance," the newspaper said.

The Times described the dance as "a sort of renovated tango" and said "it attracted much notice," as did the pantaloons, which "were bright green ... and hung down low -- perilously low -- avers the policewoman. Besides, they had ruffles and were the subject of much comment by the men."

Three days later, a judge found the dancers, a married couple, guilty of violating the ordinance because the male dancer "clutched his wife by the hip, instead of keeping his hand above her waistline," The Times reported.

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