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1538       Because of the sexual nature of the dance, the singing or reciting of the Sarabande (a dance), in whatsoever place, was punishable with two hundred lashes; in addition, men were given six years in the galleys, and women were exiled from the kingdom.
1638       Mrs. Lawrence Water and a friend (Puritans) were brought up on charges by the court for "Mixed Dancing" (dancing as a couple.)
1651       Samuel Eaton and goodwife of New Plymouth were admonished by the court for "mixed dancing" (dancing as a couple.) In the same year mixed or unmixed dancing was outlawed in the local Inns (taverns) and a five shilling fine would be imposed. Dancing was only allowed at the proper place and time.
1860       October 13. 1860: at the Grand Ball held at the Academy of Music in honor of the Royal visit by the Prince of Wales in New York. Five hundred people descended on the house, more than it could hold had been "Invited" to the affair, the new York Times (Oct. 13th, 1860) reported "there was a loud crash and a large portion of the floor caved in, directly in front of the prince".
1862       Ballerina Emma Livry (1842-1862), during a rehearsal of La Muette de Portici, Livry's Ballet skirt caught fire from a gas jet, that was hanging from a piece of scenery. Although the burn had appeared superficial, she died a few days after the accident from the burns in November, 1862.
1899       Frankie and Johnnie: reported in Saint Louis, Missouri on October 18, 1899, when well known black dancer Frankie Baker stabbed her young seventeen year-old black lover Allen Britt in her Saint Louis residence [St. Louis Dispatch, 10/20/1899]. Frankie was eventually executed for committing this crime, but the circumstances of when and how were unclear during my research. When the stabbing was changed to shooting is also unclear, Albert became Johnny, and both he and Frankie soon became legendary (Courtesy Bill Edwards.)
1908       Fred Astaire was "ruled off" the vaudeville stage while dancing with his older sister - Adele for being "Under Age" (Stage Mag 1938.)
1910       Sophie Tucker was arrested for singing the Grizzly Bear and the Wiggle Worm dance songs in a night club (stage magazine-1938.)
1910s       A Paterson, New Jersey court imposed a fifty day prison sentence on a young woman for dancing the Turkey-Trot.
1916       Aurora, Ill., Jan. 24: Joseph E. Bishop, 22, and his bride, aged 21, were seriously hurt, and twenty guests at their wedding injured late today when a portion of the house in which the nuptial celebration was being held collapsed while the guests were dancing the tango. Bishop suffered a broken arm, sprained ankle and probable internal injuries, while his bride, who was Miss Florence Vargman, suffered severe internal injuries. Physicians say she may die.The marriage ceremony was performed in St. Michael's Church, and afterwards 100 guests assembled at a residence at 214 North Broadway for the wedding feast and dance. While twenty couples were dancing the tango on the second floor, the stairway and the portion of the floor collapsed, hurling many men, women and children to the floor below. Police removed the injured and the bride and groom were hurried in ambulances to a hospital.
1916       ASHVILLE. N. C., Nov. 13.--For the pleasure of dancing the tango, Brent Latimer of Greenville, S. C. paid the price of one eye, the sight being destroyed by a quill in the hat of the young woman with whom he was dancing. Latimer and the girl essayed the tango. In making a turn the quill swept in behind his glasses, cutting the ball of the right eye.
1920       On July fourth in the a.m., Fifty people were killed when 200 Charleston dancers at the popular Pickwick Club in Boston, Ma. during the the 1920's got so enthusiastic that the vibrations made the whole dance floor collapse!.
1920s       Prohibition: In Brooklyn, twelve people died from drinking wood alcohol during prohibition.
1925       Rudolph Valentino's wife Natascha Rambova was banned from the set of The Eagle in 1925, for causing problems while Valentino was filming. (jealousy I think?).
1927       A Dance Marathon was shut down due to 60 dancers collapsing in a dance marathon after only 20 hours. Los Angeles Herald - 4/22/1927
12/10/1929       Pathe Motion Picture Exchange and Manhattan Studios, Inc., (New York) caught fire while shooting a musical revue (Black and White revue). While the dancers where on stage dancing "an electrician saw a spectacular flash and one of the dancers on the stage cried 'Fire!.' A black velvet curtain had caught fire as the result, there were seven explosions in all. Many escaped unhurt, but 10 perished in the flames, suffocated, trapped, or trampled to death, four were chorus dancers ... the youngest was a 16 year old dancer named Catherine Porter (trapped). Many historic films were lost to the flames and the building destroyed. There was upwards of 100 people working in the building that day. (photo of all 4 girls here)
1930s       Bonnie and Clyde were first spotted at a "swing dance." Bonnie and Clyde were dancing a very good Jitterbug and were noticed by fellow dancers, one individual recognized them as being wanted by the law and had the police called on them. That night marked the start of them running from the law.
1930s       During the filming of "Shall We Dance" with Fred Astaire at RKO Pictures Corp. The expensive set that was to be used in over half the movie caught fire. George, Astaire's valet went to the fire chief to be allowed to enter the charred remains, as it was imperative he enter the ruins. As the chief and George argued vigorously, George persuaded the chief to allow him to enter the burnt ruins... he returned within his possession ... none other than,... Fred Astaire's tap shoes ...:)
1930s       Judy Garland was fired from the film "Annie Get your Gun."
1936       At the Paramount Theater in New York, The Fire department was called in to check the safety of the balcony, because many of the high school kids were dancing the Jitterbug in the aisles of the balcony to Benny Goodman and his Orchestra.
1938       The famous Dalcroze Dance Institute near Dresden, Germany was closed down in 1938 when Hitler invaded Austria.
1942       A devastating fire killed over 500 dancers at the Cocoanut Grove Ballroom in Boston, MA. on November 27th. A patron had unscrewed a light bulb to become more cozy with his date and a waiter, who couldn't see lit a match to redo the bulb, this action caused the fire. It was unknown for many years as to why it spread so quickly, but was later found out a Methyl Chloride gas (highly flammable) was used to fill the air conditioner's freon tank. This was due to the shortage of freon during the war.
7/5/1951       Burlesque Queen and Stripper Lil St. Cyr's act at the Gayety Theater in Montreal, Canada was reported to be so torrid that patrons rushed for the fire escape, supposedly to cool off, when she concluded her dance. As a result, one man is killed and three others injured when part of the fire escape collapses. (note: this had to be of another reason.)
1953       Actress Sheree North broke her foot doing the Shimmy in the Jitterbug scene in the movie "Living It Up!" with Jerry Lewis.
5/22/2004       Dessi Espana - Circus performer with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, who performed aerial acrobatics with twirling chiffon cloth at 35 feet in the air without a net, who once held the world record for twirling 75 hula hoops while appearing on the TV show "Live With Regis & Kathie Lee", fell to her death on May 22 in front of a horrified audience in St. Paul, Minnesota while performing her act. She was 32 years old.