Three couples dancing in the 1940s. Black and White negative image.While some areas in the mid-1900s U.S. prohibited alcohol, Blue Earth County went a step further in July of 1944 when it banned dancing. The County Commissioners decided dancing chipped away at society’s morals, so they prohibited it to save their children. However, the ban only lasted 11 months. Then the Chamber of Commerce and the Citizens of Mankato joined together to protest. Private Ellison Laird wrote a persuasion letter while stationed in North Africa, speaking of how dancing had lifted morale during WWII. Dancing was back in Blue Earth County by August 1945.

The whole situation made European news when a blurb about it featuring Laird’s letter appeared in the “Stars and Stripes.” Laird said some of his fellow soldiers had given him a hard time about his passion for dance, but he said he was glad he did it.

“In the time I spent in the states, after serving in North Africa, I thought the morals of home folks was good,” Laird said in a Free Press interview afterward. “And we went dancing as often as time would permit. Now I’ve come over a second time and learned that a few men could put a stop to it. We love to dance and so do our wives and sweethearts. Thanks to the people and the Chamber of Commerce, the ban is lifted.”

By Grace Webb

Women in World War II