Tuesday, June 15, 2010

"Ten Cents A Dance" (1930) High Hatters

"Ten Cents A Dance"


A hit song by the songwriting team of Richard Rogers and Lorenz Hart. The tune chronicles the trails of working-class women in the early days of the Great Depression. The vocal is of a "taxi dancer" at a dance hall who takes on all male customers for a dime. One of the many poignant tumes from this era. It also inspired a 1931 movie starring Barbara Stanwyck.

(1930) Fox-Trot
High Hatters
Conducted by Leonard Joy


  1. My grandmother's aunt was a "dime a dance" girl. She actually enjoyed it most of the time, or so she said, but Aunt Jane was a "pistol"! The black sheep of the family kinda thing.
    We used to love listening to her stories.

  2. I'll bet she had some great stories Jacquie. It's always the black sheep who make the best company at get-togethers.

  3. The work we have done through out time! The girl in the movie poster has on an apron. I think the apron has a significant place in women's history too.

  4. Yes it certainly does. She's a married dancer in this picture (hence the apron). Her husband puts her in a bit of a jam as you can see in this clip from this Pre-Code Hollywood film. Talk about a wife going above and beyond the call of duty!

  5. Just to prove there is dancing in the movie.

  6. I love that band sound of the twenties and thirties. I used to buy recordings of that style of music when I was at uni in 1992 They are much harder to get now. I also collected Noel Cowards songs.

    I haven't heard this version, which I like tremendously. I think it may have been, Doris Day, singing a rendering of this, although I'm not sure.

    Thank you doug.

  7. I too enjoy that upbeat sound that came to its high mark in the Swing Era. Groups like "The High Hatters" (which was actually a studio band for the Victor Recording Company) gave audiences the "hot jazz" that literally swept the world.

    You're quite right Cassandra. Doris Day did sing this song, which was written originally as a ballad, for the movie "Love Me or Leave Me" (1955) with James Cagney. She played Ruth Etting, a real life "torch" and blues singing star of the 20's and 30's. (Cagney played her gangster boy friend, Moe "The Gimp", in his typical roughneck and bravura style.) It's is easily Doris Day's best dramatic film in my opinion.

    I've got a couple of Noel Coward CDs , one where his music is also performed by Gertrude Lawrence. He is one of the great song writers and all-out talents in an era that was seemingly crammed full of great music and witty dialouge in plays and such.

    Ruth Etting's own 1930 version--both powerful and sad--of "Ten Cents A Dance" is on You Tube, and I had a time deciding which version of this tune to put up here, truth be told.

    Glad you enjoyed this one. :-)