“Keep time with the time and with the times”

Todd Decker

in Music Makes Me

Published by University of California Press

Published in print June 2011 | ISBN: 9780520268883
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520950061 | DOI:
“Keep time with the time and with the times”

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Popular music has almost always been dance music. The dance bands' primary economic role was playing for dancing, and the film musical—especially during the era of the band pix—reached out to dancers in particular. This chapter considers how Fred Astaire's films bridged the gap between dancing couples on-screen and real social dancers moving to the changing beat of popular music. This connection is easiest to see and hear in the named partner dances Astaire created and introduced across his career. Named dances embody a specific marketing strategy: create a buzz around a new dance that generates interest in a new film. In this light, named-dance songs fit into the patterns of Hollywood's standard promotional efforts. Astaire, who made his own named dances, participated directly in studio promotion efforts. The chapter looks at Astaire the maker of partner dances, and explores links between Astaire and his various partners in the idealized realm of the film musical and real-life couples in actual American ballrooms.

Keywords: Fred Astaire; popular music; named dances; dance music; film musical; marketing; Hollywood; dancing couples; social dancers; ballrooms

Chapter.  17154 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: American Music

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