Dancing in the Streets

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Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy
Author Barbara Ehrenreich
Country United States
Language English
Subject Social history
Publisher Metropolitan Books
Publication date
January 1, 2006
Media type Hardcover
Pages 336
ISBN 978-0-8050-5723-2
OCLC 70718693
394.26 22
LC Class GT3940 .E47 2007

Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy is a book authored by Barbara Ehrenreich.

The author coins the term "collective joy" to describe group events which involve music, synchronized movement, costumes, and a feeling of loss of self. There is no precise word in English to describe the phenomenon.

The book describes cycles of creation and suppression of collective joy events. The events generally arise spontaneously and are regarded as dangerous (see Collective hysteria, Riot). The powerful elements of society gradually convert the participants into spectators. This conversion drains the events of their power, and the cycle begins anew. The author describes Western Society as particularly lacking in such events and describes current and recent examples of Collective Joy events.

Well-known examples of Collective Joy[edit]



  • Brazilian Carnival and Mardi Gras
  • Burning Man: Possibly the best modern example of collective joy, this event erases social boundaries, encourages participation as a near-religious experience, and has no basis in a historical or religious festival.
  • Rock concerts and raves: The most familiar example of collective joy to most Americans. The term especially applies to Grateful Dead concerts.
  • Love Parade: costumed dancers and electronic music festival held in many cities around the world.

Collective Joy in transition[edit]

Other Collective Joy festivals[edit]

Collective Joy festivals can be found in many localities, though seldom known as such.

  • California: Bay Area: Bay To Breakers footrace: costumed runners/walkers, dozens of bands, house parties along the race route, followed by a music concert at the end of the route.
  • California: Bay Area: Lindy in the Park (weekly event). Originally part of the Swing Revival, this event began in 1996 and continues as a free venue for swing dancing in Golden Gate Park.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]