A glance again on the fireplace on the 1921 Strand Dansant dance corridor in Canton


“DANCERS FLEE BURNING HALL,” stated a front-page headline in The Sunday Repository on March 27, 1921. “ONE MAN HURT.”

Irwin Kessler was badly burned within the Dancing Strand fireplace in downtown Canton 100 years in the past. Kessler was the son of JD Kessler, the director of the affiliated Strand Theater on Market Avenue S in Second Road SW.

Kessler “suffered burns in his face and arms when he rushed down the steps in his effort to save lots of a theater-owned property that was in a room on the second flooring. The fireplace began underneath the staircase “main up Second Road SW to the second and third flooring of the constructing,” in accordance with the article.

“Spontaneous combustion in a waste pile given because the trigger,” one other repository headline advised its readers.

“The conductor directs friends from the corridor to the exits.”

The fireplace made headlines within the metropolis as a result of dancing was all the trend within the Canton space a century in the past.

Ads within the depot in 1921 supplied details about the dances at many places in Stark County, the Meyers Lake Amusement Park being probably the most notable of those.

However dancing there was in a spot within the park the place dancing was a aspect exercise on the time, because the Moonlight Ballroom would not be constructed till the mid-Nineteen Twenties.

“By 1920, dancing had grown from formal unique teams to most people in locations such because the Dancing Strand, Schlabach Pharmacy, and Meyers Lake Curler Rink,” wrote space historian ET Heald within the quantity IV, half III. The American Approach of Life, ”from his multi-volume story,“ The Stark County Story, ”revealed within the Nineteen Fifties by the Stark County Historic Society.

Certainly, dancing was a well-liked leisure exercise all through Ohio, in accordance with the “Encyclopedia of the Historical past of Cleveland” on the Case Western Reserve College web site.

“For a lot of the twentieth century, social dancing was one of many primary leisure pursuits in industrial cities,” stated Historical past, which famous that Ohio cities comparable to Cleveland and Canton have been crowded. factories and dance halls. “The dance craze of society, influenced by (nationally famend dance lecturers) Irene and Vernon Citadel, led throughout the WWI interval to a change in social mannequin. Previous to this time, the halls weren’t at all times thought of appropriate venues for members of well mannered society; subsequently, the dances have been usually non-public occasions. A number of the extra prosperous and outstanding residents constructed their houses with a ballroom. and a celebration room, normally on the third flooring, with entry by particular stairs or an elevator. “

The Strand’s Dancing in downtown Canton, whereas a way more public venue for dancers, was modeled on this conventional pattern of personal dance venues on the highest flooring. He was situated on the third flooring of his constructing within the Strand block of Market Avenue S.

Enjoyable contained in the Dancing Strand in Canton

The depot ran adverts all through 1921 that detailed dance exercise on the Dancing Strand.

An commercial revealed on an inside web page of the identical version during which the dance corridor fireplace was reported promoted an “Easter Particular Worth Celebration” for the next night time, Monday March 28, 1921.

The “normal Onerous Time Events (Outdated Favorites’ Night time)” would additionally happen on Wednesday and Friday evenings, the announcement promised. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays evenings have been designated for dancing in accordance with the “park plan,” says the commercial.

“We reserve the proper to refuse,” he stated, indicating, as evidenced by a narrative on vintagedancer.com, that dance halls of this period have been beginning to appeal to fun-loving folks and, to the time, doubtful folks within the “Roaring Twenties.”

“The dances of the Roaring Twenties have been loopy and carefree,” the dance historical past stated. “Beforehand, ballroom dancing, though ridiculous with ‘animal dances’, was structured and tame in comparison with the impartial ‘Charleston’, ‘Black Backside’ and ‘Shimmy’ dances that took to bounce flooring within the Roaring Twenties. . Ballroom dancing continued with older, extra conservative folks till the Nineteen Thirties. The brand new dance follies have been for brand new ladies and men who valued excessive sports activities, frivolity, and extra versatile morality. A lot of the dances occurred in nightclubs and group facilities. “

Le Dansant, as soon as promoted in an official play program for Canton Soccer Bulldogs because the “Canton Fundamental Dance Corridor”, has tried to keep up its ties with the ancient times of ballroom dancing, additionally offering classes. conventional dances such because the fox trot and waltz. like a few of the extra trendy levels.

It wasn’t a nightclub, the place “dancing was usually blended with unlawful alcohol,” in accordance with the Dance Historical past web site. It was a dance corridor and educating studio that attempted to keep away from changing into, as the web site describes, “an enormous drunken dance get together.”

‘Park Plan’ dance

But as a well-liked and public dance corridor, the Dancing Strand – “The strictest and up-to-the-minute dance corridor on the town” – nonetheless tried to maintain up with dance developments that have been rising in reputation within the metropolis. the Nineteen Twenties.

Based on a landmark Library of Congress article titled “Native Legacies” on dancing within the village of Genève-sur-le-Lac, the “park plan” dance was “named for the amusement parks which have adopted the system of ten cents per dance ”.

In 1921, admission to dances on the Dancing Strand was 25 cents, plus an eight-cent “battle tax” to assist pay for the now-over World Conflict I.

The Moots Strand Dancing Orchestra – “the Six Aces of Syncopation,” offering “Pep Jazz and the very newest dance music” – performed the stumps the dancers strutted by means of, famous an advert positioned within the repository in April 1921. The week the advert appeared within the newspaper, the band’s music can be the backdrop to the “Ye Outdated Favorites Dance” – “Mommies’ Favourite Dance” – during which tunes can be performed on demand.

The “Keno”, “Sweet” and “Silk Hose” dances have been different occasions of the Dansant program presently, in accordance with further commercials.

“For those who do not dance, are available in and make preparations with our dance teacher for courses or non-public classes,” advised a 1921 advert, whereas one other recognized the trainer as “Mr. Walton ”. This newest advert, within the repository shortly earlier than the dance studio fireplace, advised would-be readers that there was “a brand new class being shaped.”

Escape the Dancing Strand Fireplace

The fireplace on the Dancing Strand – Canton’s “finest ventilated dance corridor”, in accordance with commercials – may have been extra tragic than it turned out.

The newspaper reported that longtime Canton Fireplace Chief Robert Mesnar decided the blaze was brought on by spontaneous combustion in a garbage heap underneath the steps. The fireplace chief had instructed employees to take away the trash a number of days earlier than the blaze, he stated.

“Harry Moots, conductor, who carried out for the dance on the third flooring of the constructing, averted panic among the many dancers when enormous clouds of smoke started to roll into the dance corridor,” reported the Repository.

“Because the smoke started to filter by means of the corridor, Moots stopped his band and introduced to the dancers that there was a small fireplace within the constructing, however warned them that there was no hazard and advised them. directed in direction of the emergency exits.

“Many left their scarves and hats within the locker rooms till the hearth was extinguished. A lady, whose identify was not realized by firefighters, handed out however was revived after being transported to Bender’s restaurant.

The fireplace brought on minimal injury “due to the fast and environment friendly work of the firefighters”.

“There was quite a lot of smoke and the warmth was intense,” the depot reported. “The doorways and window frames and the woodwork within the hallway and staircase resulting in the third flooring have been burnt. The glass on the second story home windows and doorways was shattered within the warmth.

“As soon as Kessler reached the second flooring, he discovered the warmth so intense that he was compelled to make his method to the third flooring. He was discovered mendacity unconscious on the dance flooring by Fireman Decker, and was taken to the emergency exit. “

Kessler obtained assist at Bender’s, then taken to Mercy Hospital on Market Avenue N for remedy.

“The fireplace didn’t injury the theater,” the newspaper stated. “The theater was closed when the hearth broke out, having been emptied quarter-hour earlier than the alarm went off.”

The March 27, 1921 issue of the Sunday Repository reported a fire at the Strand Dansant dance hall on Market Avenue S in the city's downtown core.  It also serves to illustrate a period in the city's entertainment history where dance played a big role.

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