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Last Tango In Lawrence

Janurary 14, 1914
The Lawrence police chief and city attorney, as well as the Men’s Student Council at KU, approve the tango, but University faculty condemn the dance, forcing the tango teachers to leave town.

From the Lawrence Daily Journal-World for Oct. 1, 1913:

“Accused of having sent out for publication a story which it is alleged is unfounded upon facts and which reflects unfavorably upon the University of Kansas, two students of the school were temporarily suspended by Chancellor Frank Strong this morning. The two correspondents are E. W. Wingart of Topeka and Leon E. Howe of Almena, both of whom are employed by the Topeka Daily Capital as correspondents from Lawrence. Both are juniors in the College…. When the story reached the hill this morning it created considerable excitement and the pair of correspondents were summoned to appear in the chancellor’s office. Here they were informed that they would not be admitted to classes until further notice had been given them…. The objectionable story regarded the alleged formation of a ‘Tango’ club at the University by fraternity men and sorority girls. The story was carried in this morning’s edition of the Topeka Capital under a Lawrence dateline and designated as a ‘special.’ It stated that a club had been formed by the students, that teachers had been employed to instruct in the new steps and flings and that the initial meeting would be held on Friday afternoon. Two fraternities and two sororities were named as making up the membership of the new ‘Tango’ club…. Today the members of the four Greek letter organizations vigorously protested against the publication of the article alleging that it was written without foundation, that no club had been formed, that had been no teachers employed and that the student correspondents had been misinformed and that the fraternities had not contemplated any such action which might be interpreted as a breach of the University rules regarding dancing…. The publication of the story and the subsequent suspension of the two students caused considerable furor in University circles this morning and there is much speculation as to the probable conclusion of the entire affair…. ‘When the “Tango” story was written I had positive information that such a dancing school was going to be formed. I was personally opposed to such a club on account of the bad impression it would give to the state at large, and wrote my story from that viewpoint,’ said Mr. Howe this morning…. ‘We are going into the whole matter,’ said the Chancellor. ‘I am dead opposed to all of these suggestive dances and am going to do all in my power to see that they are not tolerated.'”

From the Lawrence Daily Journal-World for Oct. 2, 1913:

“Yes, the ‘tango’ and other fancy and modern dances were discussed by University students with a view to organizing a class. This was the principal development of the last twenty-four hours in the Wingart-Howe-Tango suspension case which stirred classic Mount Oread yesterday. The information is contained in an interview obtained yesterday by a Topeka, Kansas, newspaper man with Miss Margaret Garvey of Topeka, one of the two Topeka society girls who proposed to lead Kansas University boys and girls through the intricacies of the latest creations of the eastern ball rooms…. ‘We danced the Tango at two fraternity and two sorority houses, before chaperones in each case, and the chaperones and all were delighted with the dance. It is not a rag dance, but is a very pretty and proper dance, there is nothing risque about it. People who say there is anything risque about the tango don’t know. Yes, something was said about a course of eight lessons one afternoon a week for eight weeks.’… Chancellor Strong in interviews given out yesterday declared that he hoped to see the case investigated to the bottom, he promised to do this. The indications are that there will be a revolution in University society as a result of the publication of the ‘tango’ story and the consequent suspension of the two correspondents. Dr. Strong stated yesterday that he would not tolerate the dancing of the ‘tango’ and other modern steps akin to this dance. All suggestive dances must be abolished at the University parties according to the chancellor’s declaration…. It has been frequently alleged that the new and suggestive flings were getting a hold on University social life. If these statements can be proven there is every indication that the authorities will make vigorous efforts to stamp them out.”

[Editorial] “The Journal-World is of course sorry that there has arisen trouble over some contemplated university dancing lessons, but it is not scared about them. Nothing has developed that is particularly discreditable, and so it cannot hurt the university. The Chancellor is going to do his best to keep the university clean. He has done a great work in discipline. It is our idea that little will be accomplished by a war of extermination on these fancy dances. The thing to do is to keep them within bounds. Youth is impulsive and is going to take chances. There is no wickedness contemplated. no injury to anyone desired. There ought to be some way to regulate all dancing so that it will be kept decent and pure. That is better than trying ot exterminate. We do not join in criticism of the fraternities and sororities involved because we know in each of them members well enough to know that they are fine boys and girls. Anyway the organizations are not to blame, only such members as may have allowed their exuberance get the better of them…. So let us not get excited. The thing will come out all right. A great Chancellor will handle the case as it should be handled and the young people will get their minds trained without any considerable distraction in the direction of their feet…. The boys and girls are clean and decent, and it is not fair to hold the school responsible for their youthful enthusiasms. If it were a wicked thing it would be different, but a good many worse things have been condoned in times not very far past. The correspondents who sent out this story acted in good faith and ought not to be punished. They had enough of facts to warrant the story and we think too much is being made of it anyway.”

Source Notes

Lawrence Daily Journal-World for Oct. 2, 1913

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