The rapid changes in popular music that occurred during the early 20th century in the USA, Europe and beyond were intrinsically linked to the social changes that were taking place at the time, with exponential growth in the population of towns and cities redefining the entertainment needs of people who found themselves thrown together yet unsure how to meet! Public dancing provided the answer, at least for those willing to try out their terpsichorean chances on the dance floor.
Dancing to syncopated music had crept into the evening’s entertainment for restaurants and hotels in New York and London during the years immediately leading up to World War One, driven - if not instigated - by the popularity of ragtime. The commencement of hostilities in 1914 effectively put further developments on hold in Britain but with the Armistice of 1918 public dancing once more took off, and with it so did the latest American dance craze, Jazz (or “Jass” as it was originally known). Even more so than the reputation of the ragtime music that proceeded it, jazz was seemingly a child of ignoble heritage, leading to an outcry from the pulpit and the press but instant success on the dance floors of London and other towns and cities across the UK, echoing the accomplishments the music had already achieved in the land of its birth across the Atlantic.