Dancing is merely the application of the rhythmic principle, when excitement has produced an abnormally rapid oxidisation of brain tissue, to the physical exertion by which the overcharged brain is relieved. - Melbourne AGE correspondent, in the course of a furious controversy, "Is Dancing Immoral?"
My dear ladies -- that is to say, those of you who may happen inadvertently to glance through this dreadful paper --
Most of you, no doubt, have felt impelled, at one time or another, to lightly caper
Round and about a ballroom, clasped in the manly and purely platonic embrace of some intellectual affinity -- some male bird of your type.
There comes a period in the lives of all of us when the time for such festive prancing seems deliciously ripe.
Is it not so? Then dance, dear ladies, dance every time you get a chance.
Pray, do not think for a moment that I approve of those incomprehensible persons known as Wowsers.
I object to them on principle. I object to all their works, opinions and prejudices.
But most of all I object to their absurd hats and totally nondescript trousers.
But I digress. Ladies, I am your friend.
And ever shall I sympathetically lend
An ear to your protestations in defence of the polka-mazurka, and the shottische, and the two-step, and the waltz.
To declare that such dances are indelicate is false.
They are not!
Nor is the turkey-trot
A thing of evil.
And, as some would have us believe, an invention of the DEVIL.
Nay, even the cruelly maligned sticking-plaster
Leadeth in no sense to moral disaster
For always remember, ladies, when you are indulging in intricate terpishchorean evolutions, then that unutterably ecstatic bliss you
Experience for the moment is merely an abnormally rapid oxidisation of the mental tissue.
Dear females - cliners, tarts, peaches, flappers, bits o' fluff, and perfect ladies,
There are those who will tell you that dancing is a direct importation from Hades.
By making such absurd and obviously idiotic assertions nothing can be gained:
For the whole matter may be scientifically, psychologically and biologically explained.
For instance, we will suppose that you are treading some stately measure --
Such as the Gaby-glide -- with a partner whose appearance and deportment give you entire pleasure.
And we will suppose
His is emboldened to propose
A subsequent and somewhat surreptitious adjournment to the conservatory -
(You know the old, old story?)
And, being half inclined to agree, you fall to wondering whether mother would really miss you.
Do not hesitate, dear lady. Respond immediately to the extraordinary and not altogether unpleasant oxidisation of the aforesaid tissue.
And now, dear lady,
Having discovered a secluded nook both cool and shady,
It is just possible that your partner may fondly place his arm around you.
Nay, do not let this dumbfound you.
Be not alarmed. No haughty glances, if you please,
For indications such as these
Betray a mind uncultured. If you would act aright,
I pray you, regard the whole matter in a scientific light.
If, for a moment, I thought you failed to recognise the rhythmic principle I should be sorely grieved.
Remember, always remember, my dear lady, that the poor young man's overcharged brain must, at all costs, be relieved.
(For, in the course of my exhaustive researches, I have discovered, after much labor and infinite pains,
That a very large proportion of dancing men are afflicted with overcharged brains.)
And then, should he, perchance, press you tenderly to his biled shirt, and ultimately kiss you;
No protests, I pray you. Reflect, again, that this is uncontrovertibly another manifestation of the rapid, not to say furious oxidisation of the aforementioned tissue.
And here, dear lady, endeth my discourse. I have nothing to add except, perhaps, that it would at this point be advisable to return to the ballroom and your maternal relation.
Not, of course, with any idea of snubbing the poor young man with the overcharged brain; but merely as an ordinary precaution against the possible effects of over-oxidisation.
First published in The Bulletin, 10 July 1913