Social Dancing and Rugged Masculinity—The Figure of the Eintänzer in Hans Janowitz’s novel Jazz (1927)

Mihaela Petrescu


The figure of the Eintänzer (a paid male dance partner/instructor) indicates that we need to revise and fine-tune our understanding of Weimar modernity with regard to the realms and strategies used to reinstate masculine mastery. While scholarship considers the world of Weimar social dancing a female domain, this essay demonstrates that the Eintänzer in Hans Janowitz’s novel Jazz (1927) asserts a strong, modern yet rugged masculinity enabled particularly by his mastery of the realm of social dance, which he infuses with crime and illicit sex. Through this unique conflation the Eintänzer comes to possess social, financial, and sexual mobility which stands in contrast to dance instructors of preceding centuries, the jovial and non-threatening Eintänzer that emerges from Billy Wilder’s journalism, and the female dancer for hire So-Etwas portrayed in Jazz. Ultimately, Arpad von M., the Eintänzer in Jazz, is a captivating, self-stylized bad-boy figure that reveals Weimar’s fascination with decadence and tough masculinity. (MP)

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