Jessica Backus
Apr 17, 2013 9:28PM

Philip Evergood on his work Dance Marathon, 1934:

"[It] really showed the violence of that age, of this beginning age that is so violent today... People flopping around on their behinds on the floor tired out after 49 days of dancing... To earn a thousand dollars."

Dance marathons emerged as a fad in the 1920s and 1930s, when times were so dire that the young and unemployed would put themselves through excruciating trials, all for a long-shot dream. Evergood isn't the only one to have noticed the violence desperation engenders. In 1935, Horace McCoy's brutal take on an 879-hour-long marathon, the novel They Shoot Horses, Don't They? includes a love triangle, a murder, and a dance contest marred by the hopelessness of the Great Depression. Death, it seems, bids with the promise of better fortunes, as the skeletal hand clutching a thousand dollar bill in the upper left corner hauntingly drives home.


Jessica Backus