non-Thursday music link
But even Mass Observation conceded the startling contrast between the ‘mechanized barbarity’ of dancehall music and the wordless decorousness of the dancers’ movements. In order to request a dance, a young man would simply touch a potential partner lightly on her elbow, and they would move silently on to the floor. It was quite normal for partners to dance for hours without speaking to each other, before going their separate ways.
Well, a big dance hall implies big sound. That implies either electronic amplification, or before that was invented, a fuck-off big horn section. And either of those will help the dancing while cramping your conversation. (I SAID, HOW ABOUT ANOTHER DRINK!) In fact, the electric guitar was invented in the 1930s as a substitute for quite so many wind players providing the wash.
It’s true, as William Baumol said, that you need as many people to play a concerto as you did in 1900 and the same isn’t true of producing steel, farming, or running a phone exchange or a bank. Interestingly, the electric guitar was originally an attempt to substitute capital for labour in the music industry, with enormous unforeseen consequences.