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Book: Dancehalls, Glitterballs and DJs

Chapter: Swing Until You Win

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.44952


The 1930s and 1940s saw another coming together of social, cultural and technological factors that would lead to the emergence of disco. As the Nazis took power, German teenagers danced in cellars to American music on gramophone records in defiance of Hitler, calling themselves the Swingjugend, growing their hair long and wearing clothes that aped the styles of their British counterparts. A year or two later French youth did the same in defiance of the Nazi occupation, the Zazous taking to suburban cellar bars to dance to their own favourite jazz and swing bands on record and calling themselves after the nonsense hipster language of performers like Cab Calloway. In Britain, the government recognised the benefits of music for people’s morale in factories and air-raid shelters and favoured the use of gramophones to deliver this music to the people as they huddled down to rest, or got up and danced.

Chapter Contributors

  • Bruce Lindsay ( - blindsay) 'Music Journalist and Social Historian'