Vintage Tune for the Weekend! Ruth Etting “10 Cents a Dance”

When getting ready to go out to drink, dance and be merry this weekend, spare a thought for those unlucky souls of the early 20th century who had no partners to dance with. Some enterprising young women did spare a thought, and came up with an ingenious business idea, rented dances. So if you had no one to dance with you could hire a young lady to dance with you for one song. This usually cost 10 cents and these dancing women became known as “taxi-dancers”.

Taxi Dancers waiting

It wasn’t all fun and games however as “10 Cents a Dance” tells us. Written by Richard Rodger and Lorenz Hart it tells the tale of a fed up taxi dancer who is exhausted and fed up of dealing with slimy clients. Ruth Etting popularised the song and it is unsurprising why, she has a beautiful voice and gives great meaning and depth to the lyrics.  This song put Etting on the map for me and I have become a firm fan ever since. It seems strange that as perfect as it sounds for her that the song was not originally meant for her. Lee Morse was meant to perform it in the show “Simple Simon” but her alcoholism prevented her from performing.

It may surprise you but taxi dancers are still around today. They have become more popular since dancing classes have taken off as people require partners. In places such as Argentina, they dance with tango students in particular. Despite this I am unsure of how someone would feel about being offered money for dancing in a club randomly today, so RCB doesn’t recommend it unless you check first.

Ruth Etting

Fans of video games may feel a shiver coming over their spine as the music plays as the song was featured in the masterpiece Bioshock 2. Whoever would have though that a first person shooter would bring back the love of music from the 1930s?

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You can purchase Ruth Etting’s music on CD.


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