Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xiv

When I began my doctoral work, I naïvely overlooked the fact that I would likely be required to write a book someday. Had I remembered, I certainly would have dropped out immediately, for writing a book is simply too daunting a task for one to undertake alone. Fortunately, I did not have to do it alone, but with the support of a great many people who advised, inspired, encouraged, cajoled...

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Introduction: Becoming Beautiful

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pp. 1-16

In 2006 executives of the successful reality television show Dancing with the Stars caused a stir when they announced that Jerry Springer would perform in season 3. The oft-maligned host of a daytime television talk show renowned for its brawls and broken hearts cut an unsympathetic figure for fans of the show. As entertainment reporter Maria Caccia (2006) wrote in an article...

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Interlude

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pp. 17-20

By 8:00 p.m. the dancers have filled the lobby. They are lining up to pay the $6 cover charge to Genevieve, pick up their dance card, and head for the floor. The dance card serves as a program, listing the order of the genres in groups of two, each grouping called a set, as well as announcements about upcoming events. As dancers hang their coats and change into their dance...

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1. The Classification of Style

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pp. 21-44

Pete, a retired, single dancer in his seventies and a regular attendee at the Regent’s Friday night dances, leaned in close during our swing at a Friday night dance, and in a playful, conspiratorial tone said, “You know, I really think this is a foxtrot, but they get mad at me when I don’t do what I’m supposed to,” nodding to the deejay booth. Continuing the conspiratorial gag, I looked over...

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2. Rules of Engagement: Marketing Safety and Managing Risk in the Ballroom

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pp. 45-66

Driving south out of Champaign, Illinois, one might completely fail to notice the low-lying residential landscape of the neighboring village of Savoy. From Savoy’s small commercial district on Route 45—which includes a veterinary clinic, a Honda dealership, a Dairy Queen, a multiplex, and a Schnuck’s grocery store—the 1970s residential neighborhoods that begin one block west...

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Interlude

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pp. 67-74

A quiet rumba gives way to the cheerful refrain of a quickstep, and I see Dean making his way toward me for the dance I promised him earlier in the evening. Dean is a single, white, thirty-something astrophysicist—literally, a rocket scientist—and a wonderful smooth dancer. After a brief moment to set up, we’re off for what seems like the sprint of ballroom dance. The fast pace...

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3. Bringing Coherence to the Sensuous Life: Connection and Partnership Among Social Dancers

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pp. 75-96

Before the start of a Tuesday night practice dance, I was sitting with Dan and Mai, a retired academic couple of Japanese descent. The couple has been dancing for decades and has become a fixture on the dance floor. In their notable affection for one another, their playful, energetic synchrony, and their deep compatibility on and off the floor, they more aptly personify the American...

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4. Performing Race, Remaking Whiteness

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pp. 97-120

I was milling about the lobby of the Regent Ballroom and Banquet Center in Savoy, Illinois, chatting with a group of ballroom dancers who were preparing for their first salsa formation dance team rehearsal. One dancer in particular, Ethan, was very eager to get started. He was pacing the floor, snapping his fingers nervously, and practicing the basic salsa moves he already...

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Interlude

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pp. 121-124

Two tables are decorated with streamers and balloons in celebration of birthdays, and during the break individuals begin lighting candles and serving cake. Those birthday and anniversary celebrants claim their complimentary bottle of champagne, and the hall is filled with toasts, laughter, and quiet renditions of “Happy Birthday to You.” I stop by Tony and Sarah’s table to say hello...

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5. Joy, Flow, and Personal Transformation

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pp. 125-134

Jane, the part-time Regent instructor, is a white, middle-aged mother of three boys. She is in excellent shape, her petite and athletic build a testament to the years she has spent as a competitive race walker and ballroom dance instructor. She and her husband, Mark, started dancing in 1996, about the same time I started this project, and I have followed them through the trajectory from...

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Interlude

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pp. 135-138

Many folks have standing partners for the last waltz of the evening, whether it be a spouse, a friend, or a competition partner. I have no arrangement and so take my chances week to week. Leo’s standing partner is not here tonight, so he raises his brow, tilts his head toward the floor while holding out his hand, and we’re heading together for the final waltz of the night. I walk into...

Appendix

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pp. 139-148

Notes

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pp. 149-160

References

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pp. 161-168

Index

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pp. 169-174

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About the Author, Production Notes

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pp. 175-180

Joanna Bosse is an associate professor of ethnomusicology and dance studies at Residential College in the Arts and Humanities at Michigan State University....

Image Plates

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