Huffpost San Francisco

Oakland Dance Marathon Ban Repealed (PHOTOS)

Posted: Updated:

Last week, Oakland's City Council issued an official dance dance resolution ending the city's 82-year old prohibition on dance marathons.

"We do not need to keep so-called morality laws from several generations ago on the books," Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker told the San Francisco Chronicle.

The repeal effort was initiated by Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan, who has recently been working on overturning outdated laws.

During the Great Depression, dance marathons became a popular way for desperate, out-of-work people to earn cash prizes by dancing virtually 24-hours a day--only receiving momentary respites from having to move on their feet for weeks at time. While the rules often varied from one dance marathon to another, the common practice was to give dancers a 15-minute break for every 45 minutes of dancing.

Spectators paid admission into the contests, often called "bunion derbies" or "corn and callus carnivals," where ticket prices were comparatively thriftier than going to the movies or a playhouse. The dance marathon fad was dramatized as grueling bloodsport in Sydney Pollack's 1969 film They Shoot Horses Don't They?.

Due to the bad reputation dance marathons had engendered as their popularity grew, Oakland prohibited the practice in 1930, with the state of California following suit in the early 1950s. California repealed its statewide ban in 1990s; however, it took Oakland just over two decades to do the same.

The Associated Press noted that the punishment for holding a dance marathon in Oakland under the old rule was up to six months in jail.

Other places around the country imposed similar prohibitions. The year before Oakland's law went into effect, Seattle banned dance marathons after a woman committed suicide due to a related incident.

In the years since the Depression, dance marathons have been less a money-making endeavor for the individual participants than they a money-raising one for high school and college students looking to support various charitable causes and non-profit groups.

Take a look at some other bizarre, outdated laws still on San Francisco's books in this slideshow:

Close
Police Code Provisions
of
Share
Tweet
Advertisement
Share this
close
Current Slide

Around the Web

Oakland drops ban on dance marathons - SFGate

Oakland ends 82-year-old ban on dance marathons - Press Democrat

Oakland drops ban on dance marathons - Topix

Oakland ends 82-year-old ban on dance marathons | KGET TV 17

State News | KGET TV 17

dancespirit.com | dance news, fashion, competition info & your ...

CBS San Francisco

Dance Marathons - HistoryLink.org- the Free Online Encyclopedia of ...

Oakland drops ban on dance marathons

Filed by Aaron Sankin