How can I find out about dancing in the Mormon Church? I understand that at one time the Mormon Church tried to do away with all dancing. Even in the early 1920s, in my family journals, they talked about being kicked out of the church dance for waltzing. Where can I find more on this subject? My family all lived in Bear Lake, Idaho.
I was born in the early 1920’s not far from Bear Lake in Soda Springs, Idaho. The Gold and Green Balls, sponsored by both the Ward and the Stake, were the big social events of the years when I was growing up. Different groups were chosen from the Ward Gold and Green Ball to represent the Ward at the Stake Gold and Green Ball. Specific dances were identified for the competition and judging would take place to determine the best dancers. One year I participated in the Stake Gold and Green Ball, where we danced a particular tango.
Dancing has been a part of Church social functions since the time of Joseph Smith. The Saints crossing the plains would gain relief from their weary journey during the day by dancing around the camp fires in the evening. When the pioneers reached their destination in the valley of the Great Salt Lake, not two years passed by before they built a “bowery” where dances were held. Dancing has been a continuous activity in the Church from that time until now.
If someone in your family was kicked out of a church dance for waltzing, it suggests two things: one, the Church was sponsoring dances at the time; and two, since waltzes certainly were not outlawed, it must have been the manner in which they were dancing rather than the nature of the dance they were performing.
It is not uncommon, in fact it is a standard of procedure, to ensure appropriate dress and decorum in a church dance. In my experience, we have had to prohibit some young people from entering the cultural hall during a ward dance because of inappropriate dress. We have been required to ask others to leave because of inappropriate behavior. So perhaps you might try reading a little between the lines in your family journal.