lthough the idea of stripping or striptease was not a new one (The Moulin Rouge and The Folies Bergere had been showing such acts for years), it did not really take off in the UK until the 1930s. Part of the problem was that English law prohibited nudes from actually moving. The manager of the Whitehall theatre, Vivian Van Damm, decided that incorporating nude females in his shows could turn around the theatre’s losses, so he persuaded Lord Cromer, the Lord Chancellor, that provided the girls did not move this could not be construed as illegal or offensive, and so the tableaux vivants (French for “living pictures”) were born.
His optimism was justified and soon the “Windmill Girls” were touring other theatres, in and out of London. However, the demands of male audiences were such that creativity was necessary to further circumvent the law. One successful trick was for the girl to hold a spinning rope. Since the rope was moving rather than the girl, authorities allowed it, even though the girl’s body
was displayed in motion. In 1937 Denise Vane became well-known for the Fan Dance; her body was concealed by fans held by her and two female attendants. At the end of the act she would stand still and her attendants would remove the concealing fans to reveal her nudity. She would then hold the pose for a short time before the close of the performance. This idea was taken up by other dancers most noticeably Phyllis Dixey in
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