The First Forbidden Dance of Love
It was once considered an act of obscenity by mid 18th century standards. In 1797, Jakob Wolf wrote a commentary stating that it was the cause of the weakening of the mind and body of his generation. It was also forbidden in certain parts of Swabia and Switzerland at one time. Through all the criticism emerged a beautiful, and one of the oldest forms of all current ballroom dances, the Viennese Waltz.
You are probably wondering, how could a dance be the cause of such a negative public uproar? Before the Viennese Waltz, society considered it inappropriate and forbade any touching while dancing other than hand to hand; this was the first ballroom dance to be performed in the closed position, or “waltz” position. German nationalist/poet Ernst Arndt described the dance as so: "Thus, the turning went on in the most indecent positions; the hand holding the dress lay hard against the breasts pressing lasciviously at every movement; the girls, meanwhile, looked half mad and ready to swoon, as they waltzed around in the darker side of the room. The clasps and kisses became still bolder. It is the custom in the country, and not as bad as it looks, they say: but I can now quite understand why they have forbidden the waltz in certain parts of Swabia and Switzerland."
However, everyone did not feel this way. In 1796, composer Vinzenz Martin introduced Vienna to the first version of the Viennese Waltz in his opera Una Cosa Rara. It was embraced by the younger generation and those who were not a part of high society, and eventually gained large popularity in Vienna. The wave spread from France to America in 1810 and in 1812, the dance was introduced to England as the German Waltz and quickly spread throughout the region. Dance historian/teacher, Belinda Quirey said,
“The advent of the Waltz in polite society was quite simply the greatest change in dance form and dancing manners that has happened in our history."[ With help from the Congress of Vienna and famous composers like Josef Lanner and Johann Strauss, the Viennese Waltz gained popularity during the early 19th century. It is still a very popular dance in Germany, Austria, Scandinavia, France and the greater Cleveland, Ohio U.S.A area.
The Viennese Waltz is the oldest form of all current ballroom dances that emerged during the second half of the 18th century. Its origin came from a popular German folk dance called the Landler, but it was a faster version. The waltz is danced around 180 beats (58-60 measures) per minute verses its counterpart, the more known waltz, the English or slow waltz which is danced at approximately 90 beats per minute with 3 beats to the bar. Some describe the waltz as a rotary dance where the dancers are constantly turning either toward the leader’s right (natural) or toward the leader’s left (reverse). There are two versions of the popular waltz, International and American style. The Viennese Waltz is a ballroom and partner dance that is part of the International Standard division of contemporary ballroom dance. Best described by an unnamed journalist, “the Vienna waltz surpasses everything in wild fury.”
Written by Toney Herndon; Sources – Viennese Waltz- Flying like the Wind by Miles Hamby, Viennese Waltz- Wikipedia