Swans Commentary » swans.com March 8, 2010  



Barbara Ehrenreich's Dancing In The Streets


by Martin Murie





Ehrenreich, Barbara: Dancing In The Streets: A History Of Collective Joy, Granta Books, London, 2007.


(Swans - March 8, 2010)   Barbara Ehrenreich has a clear theme: the see-sawing between ruling classes and oppressed classes. Sometimes in medieval ages it was drink, feast, dance, and enjoy the numerous church holidays. Someone might dress like a king and mock him.

In modern times the rock rebellion burst upon a sober America; the struggles for equality and the Vietnam War bolstered the drug culture and the beginning of a genuine youth culture. "Don't trust anyone over 30."

The working class can no longer afford ticket prices and the "standing room" in the back of the stadium is no longer available in the new facilities. Market economy rules with a vengeance. The workers stay home on the couch or frequent bars that feature large TV displays tuned to games.

The concluding chapter is a strong defense of joy and ecstasy. She defends the findings of physiology as an inescapable component of the dynamics of motion, and that is why we stamp our feet when we get the beat. Dance is the next step.

Drugs and alcohol are inevitable parts of festival time. So is feasting, dancing, becoming truly social. The message is clear: get some sociality into our restricted lives.


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Swans -- ISSN: 1554-4915
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Published March 8, 2010