Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
Dancing in the Streets

Dancing in the Streets

A History of Collective Joy

Barbara Ehrenreich

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"Fascinating . . . An admirably lucid, level-headed history of outbreaks of joy from Dionysus to the Grateful Dead."—Terry Eagleton, The Nation

Widely praised as "impressive" (The Washington Post Book World), "ambitious" (The Wall Street Journal), and "alluring" (The Los Angeles Times), Dancing in the Streets explores a human impulse that has been so effectively suppressed that we lack even a term for it: the desire for collective joy, historically expressed in revels of feasting, costuming, and dancing.

Drawing on a wealth of history and anthropology, Barbara Ehrenreich uncovers the origins of communal celebration in human biology and culture. From the earliest orgiastic Mesopotamian rites to the medieval practice of Christianity as a "danced religion" and the transgressive freedoms of carnival, she demonstrates that mass festivities have long been central to the Western tradition. In recent centuries, this festive tradition has been repressed, cruelly and often bloodily. But as Ehrenreich argues in this original, exhilarating, and ultimately optimistic book, the celebratory impulse is too deeply ingrained in human nature ever to be completely extinguished.

EXCERPT

Introduction:

Invitation to the Dance

When Europeans undertook their campaigns of conquest and exploration in what seemed to them "new" worlds, they found the natives engaged in many strange and lurid activities. Cannibalism was...

Reviews

Praise for Dancing in the Streets

“A fabulous book on carnival and ecstasy, skillfully arranged and brilliantly explained.” —Robert Farris Thompson, author of Tango: The Art History of Love

“Barbara Ehrenreich shows how and why people celebrate together, and equally what causes us to fear celebration. Here is the other side of ritual, whose dark side she explored in Blood Rites. She ranges in time from the earliest festivals drawn on cave walls to modern football crowds; she finds that festivities and ecstatic rituals have been a way to address personal ills like melancholy and shame, social ills as extreme as those faced by American slaves. Dancing in the Streets is itself a celebration of language -- clear, funny, unpredictable. This is a truly original book.” —Richard Sennett, author of The Culture of the New Capitalism

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About the author

Barbara Ehrenreich

Barbara Ehrenreich is the bestselling author of Nickel and Dimed, Bait and Switch, Bright-sided, This Land Is Their Land, and Blood Rites, among others. A frequent contributor to Harper's and The Nation, she has also been a columnist at The New York Times and Time magazine. She is the winner of the L.A. Times Book Prize for Current Interest and ALA Notable Books for Nonfiction.

Ehrenreich was born in Butte, Montana, when it was still a bustling mining town. She studied physics at Reed College, and earned a Ph.D. in cell biology from Rockefeller University. Rather than going into laboratory work, she got involved in activism, and soon devoted herself to writing her innovative journalism. She lives and works in Florida.

Barbara Ehrenreich

Sigrid Estrada

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