Dance Decades

Dance Decades

Duncan Macleod & Karl Dickson

Should Christians dance? The answers to that question have kept the Christian community talking and writing for a hundred years at least in New Zealand.

In the early 1920s children’s dances and fancy dress balls were all the fashion. Not all were keen to expose young people to such environments. Dancing was more likely to be found in Anglican and Catholic Church halls than in the buildings of Baptists, Methodists or Presbyterians, let alone Brethren Assemblies…

Some churches built halls with sprung floors so they could host the most exciting dances in town. Some banned young people from attending dances. Others drew the line at square dances. The thorny question of dancing was debated at the 1939 and 1945 meetings of the Presbyterian General Assembly. The finding warned about the excesses and abuses of the dancing craze, including the open and social use of liquor. It was recommended that dances be run only if approved by the local Church elders, that dances not be used to raise funds, and that they not be open to the general public.

The following quote comes from a book published in opposition to the Assembly’s liberal decision.

“I have experienced the intoxicating effects of swing music… and when I compare that with the elevating effect of the music of the great masters, I know there is something fundamentally wrong ∆ fiendish, diabolical, if you like, about swing music. Then dance ceases to be enjoyment for its own sake… and young people under its spell will easily accept the counterfeit of true love and say and do things which in broad daylight seem utterly stupid.” A student writing in the 1940′s.

Barn Dances, Ballroom dancing, line dancing, rock ‘n’roll, disco, Islands dancing… the list continues to this day. What is appropriate behaviour for Christian young people?

The Bible has a range of approaches, ranging from the sensual Song of Solomon to Paul warnings about ‘carousing’ in Galatians 5:21.

Christian stands on dancing have revealed a huge range of attitudes towards sexuality, popular culture, worldliness and young people…