Date: c. 1918
Description: This white linen ladies’ summer dress would have been worn at some of Sioux City’s prime attractions in the early 20th century, like the Interstate Livestock Fair or the Mondamin Carnival. These types of events would have been enjoyed by all classes of people, but the fine material of this dress indicates that this lady was probably part of the upper crust of society. Had she lived about 30 or 40 years before her time however, a good portion of her social time would have been spent at the dance hall. From the mid-19th to early 20th centuries dance was a prime social pastime. In the 19th century women wore hoop skirts, which kept the fabric out of the way during dances. By 1900 the fashion switched to bustles instead of hoops, and dances changed accordingly. The waltz became popular in this period, once thought of as a scandalous dance because the couple were facing each other instead of side by side. Around 1918, during the time this dress was made, its wearer would have been in the full swing of the ragtime era, where couples dancing was now mainstream.
In Sioux City 19th-century socialites and elite families attended parties in grand ballrooms like at the Martin Hotel, or boat clubs like the Sioux City Yacht Club. By the peak of the ragtime era dancing had become a pastime not just for elites, but for people of all classes and ages. Shore Acres, once a high class boating club, was converted into a public dance hall during this time, and by 1930 and the Swing era it was one of the most popular venues. Other popular halls at this time included the Skylon, Tomba, Rigadon, and Winter Garden halls. Today similar formal events can be held at the Sioux City Convention Center, and in area hotel ballrooms.
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