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Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy Paperback – December 26, 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Holt Paperbacks; 1st edition (December 26, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805057242
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805057249
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #420,902 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Ehrenreich's social history of collective joy, ranging from pagan ritual to rock concerts, comes off as an extended, rambling lecture, taking in a varied array of subjects along the way. Taking the hint, Ward reads Ehrenreich's book with a touch of the lecturer's oratorical savvy, and some of that same figure's dry deliberation. Ehrenreich argues that communal ecstasy has been too often misunderstood as an excuse for booze-fueled sexual bacchanalias, ignoring its political and social components. Ward is neither overly joyous in her reading, owing too much to the nature of her material, nor overly serious, her voice tinged with the slightest hint of charmed pleasure at the prospect of declaiming on Ehrenreich's chosen subject. The unabridged audio is not overlong as audiobooks go, but there are moments where Ward's reading drags ever so slightly, pulled down by a sameness of approach that threatens to inspire the opposite of the ecstatic moments Ehrenreich's book describes. The solid quality of Ehrenreich's prose papers over the gaps and gives Ward's reading the pleasurable (if not quite monumentally joyous) sensation it possesses.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

Review

'Witty and quizzical - Her lightness of touch is commendable' Simon Callow, Guardian 'Dancing in the Streets is a genuine triumph of popular critical scholarship - the punchy elegance of her prose makes this an essential purchase' Independent --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Tim Warneka on November 22, 2009
Format: Audio CD
I listened to the audio version of this book.

I found this book to be fascinating and stimulating. As a life-long Roman Catholic, I thought the earlier reviews that decry the author for her 'church bashing' and 'Stalin'-like approaches were rather unfair and unnecessarily ad hominem. The author clearly put a great deal of time and effort into this book (either that, or she has an amazing team of researchers working for her! ;-D). It was fascinating for me to listen as she wove disparate pieces of information into a beautiful tapestry about the history of collective ecstatic dance in the Western world. (These kinds of books are very difficult to write. If you haven't tried to write a book such as this, I would strongly invite you to do so ... you'll gain a new appreciation for authors such as Ehrenreich who make it look so easy.)

I picked this book up because I very appreciated the author's Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America and Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream. I appreciate the author because she is focusing on issues that, in my opinion, should deeply concern today's Christians, such as the rich becoming richer and the poor becoming poorer.

As a mental health professional, I also found her discussion on depression and mental health issues to be very insightful.

The person who read the audio book did a wonderful job. I found her voice very easy to listen to.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Cynthia Roses-Thema, Ph.D. on July 8, 2008
Format: Paperback
Good research comes from good questions. Barbara Ehrenreich's book is the result of two excellent questions that she writes are prompted by a sense of loss: "if ecstatic rituals and festivities were once so widespread, why is so little left of them today? If the `techniques' of ecstasy represent an important part of the human cultural heritage, why have we forgotten them, if indeed we have?"
Going chronologically from the stone age cave drawings where the collective experience of dancing and feasting was felt so important as to record it, Ehrenreich sweeps through to present times, to what she calls an age of spectacle and sports. Along the way, Ehrenreich tells you about anthropologists who in the beginning neglected dance altogether and psychologists who are still too busy studying only the depressed individual to take any notice of those of us who experience joy. She takes a long hard look at Calvinism through the immensely troubled life of John Bunyan and tracks the dance mania in the 13-15th century Europe that ended in a crackdown on bodily movement from both Church and State in the 16th century. Ehrenreich cleverly posits this crackdown could very well be linked to the European Depression in the 17th century and she cites evidence in the novels, poetry, and autobiographies of the times. She finds only sporadic outbreaks of collective joy in present times, one such episode emanating from the sixties culture.
Coming to this book as a dancer and knowing the joy of dance I interpret Ehrenreich's work as demonstrating the struggle that exists in the physical body when you dance. In other words, to move or not to move.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Ladybug on August 25, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book explains how and why our western European culture (among others) systematically represses our natural human inclination to cut loose and enjoy ourselves, and why it is so important for our emotional and political well-being that we continue to do so! Very thorough in explanations and examples. I now see acts of community celebration, music and dance to be highly important demonstrations of our personal freedom and political rights.
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By Martin Shackelford on May 17, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A good look at the history of ritual, celebration, carnival, pleasure, and the efforts to suppress them. Very well done!!!
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