Criminal Marathoners

The people in this picture are about to be criminals, guilty of breaking a Depression era law against dance marathons. On May 23, 1931, a grueling ballroom marathon under way at the Spanaway Pavilion Dance Hall, where couples competed to see who could stay continually on their feet the longest, was inharmoniously raided by police and the promoters, Norman Rieman, G. B. Breseman and Harold Avery were arrested. The slick announcer from Tacoma’s KMO radio station displays more suave than sympathy for the dancers who would stay on their feet and mostly awake for days in an attempt to outlast one another. The station paid the promoters, the ballroom paid the musicians, the promoters took most of the admission money and the winners got a cheap brass cup and a small cash award. No record of who paid for the nurses. Both photos were likely taken before the event.

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