This book examines the transformative potential of ballroom dance, and especially how it can make anyone become beautiful. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork with a local community of amateur ballroom dancers from the Regent Ballroom and Banquet Center in Savoy, Illinois, the book explores the intersection of notions of beauty and experience—the act of becoming beautiful through performance. It considers the ethnographic trope of becoming beautiful as an “expression” in the sense suggested by Victor Turner and Edward Bruner in their anthropological work on experience. It demonstrates how the contemporary performance of ballroom dance among amateurs generates feelings of positive personal transformation, of becoming beautiful. The book also discusses the dance hall as a social space where disparate groups come together to move in synchrony, along with the ways in which race, class, and gender converge in ballroom dancing. Finally, it provides detailed ethnographic data on the formation of affinity groups.
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