Edited By: Alyssa Anderson
On the March 8th broadcast of Blugold Radio, WUEC 89.7 FM, Christina Butcher presented “The Age of Dancing”. Butcher, through various interviews, illustrated the important role dance and dance culture played in the lives of Eau Claire alumni. Butcher’s interviews not only provide a clear representation of Blugold life in the 1940’s, but also show how different us modern-day Blugolds are.
1942 graduate of the Eau Claire State Teachers College, Dorothy Carpenter, explains that dance was a large part of life during the 1940’s. Carpenter claims her and her peers would dance three to four times a week. Various places in Eau Claire put on dances, garnering large crowds of college students. Though it was easy to find a place to dance your heart out in Eau Claire, one dance hall was a favorite among the youth. “The Hoot”, located out by Lake Halley, was the ultimate destination for a Saturday night. Countless college students gathered at this beloved dance hall for a night of drinking, dancing and socializing. And, if they were lucky, some even found themselves a romantic partner. Butcher continues to explain that dancing played an important role in 1940’s culture, especially for Blugolds. Student culture and social life revolved around dancing. Dancing allowed stressed-out college students to unwind, socialize and have a bit of fun for a change.
Nearly the entire youth population of the 1940’s was engrossed in dance culture, so what happened to it? What do modern-day college students do for fun? The statistics of a 2011 study by the Bureau of Labor indicates that teens spend less than an hour per weekday engaging in recreational activities. The cause of this depressing statistic is an obvious one: technology. According to an article found on huffingtonpost.com, young people spend an estimated seven and a half hours a day consuming media-whether it be listening to music, watching T.V, or scrolling through Facebook. 1940’s teenagers did not have the luxury of smartphones; they had to discover their own means of entertainment. Instead of sitting in their dorm rooms binge-watching Netflix, college students during the 40’s chose to go out and dance. An article on pewresearch.org explains that 94% of college students go online daily, or more than once a day. Advancements in the technological world have made huge impacts within our society, some good and some bad. When walking down the hall of any dorm building, you will most likely see more students sitting in front of the television or computer screen instead of actually socializing with each other.
The youth of the 1940’s built their social life around the dance scene. Young people used dance as a way to relax, socialize and engage with their peers. With this fact in mind, turn off your phones this weekend. Shut down Netflix for a night and go out and dance. I am sure your Blugold alumni can reassure that you will not regret it.