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Radio Days: 1938

Radio Days: 1938

Washington, D.C., circa 1938. "Dancing class, WRC studio." Smile for the microphone, girls. Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.


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I feel sorry for their poor, tortured eyebrows.

Keep on learning

>> These girls do not appear to be the teenagers we would find as aspiring dancers today.

Well, there's nothing particularly to say they're "aspiring." Professionals did (and do) continue to take dance classes, and at least some of these ladies may well be working dancers. They certainly have the legs for it.


That's one bushel of tomatoes!


A beautiful selection of legs! And gosh, why has the word "gams" passed from popular use?

Dance Makeup

As a former dancer myself, I'm not surprised at the makeup. If they're going somewhere "as dancers," then they'd wear the makeup, especially if they're wearing a costume of some sort. Even if it is on radio, they'd want to look the part for the host (how would he describe the lovely ladies?) and for photos.

Also, the dancer on the floor is pretty darn unflexible. And it's rather funny that he put down that blanket for her to demonstrate her stretch on.

All dolled up for radio

Even if there wasn't a studio audience for this program, I'm sure the girls knew they'd be having their picture taken that day. Cute rehearsal clothes, clean shoes, freshly-curled hair, and a nice coat of lipstick might mean some casting director noticing them in the picture and offering them a job!

Speaking of rehearsal clothes, man, oh, man. I'm a heterosexual female, but those perky little shorts and skirts are making my heart flutter a little.

Polka-Dots Rule

And so does the lovely lady wearing them at the far left. She's got my vote!

We used our imagination

I like the thinking behind the idea of dancers on the radio. It fits well with Peter Brough and Archie Andrews - 1950s radio stars here in the UK. They were a ventriloquist and his dummy!

Live Broadcasting

Didn't most radio programs have a live studio audience back in the day? This would explain why everyone is made up and looks so sharp.


These girls do not appear to be the teenagers we would find as aspiring dancers today. They look to be in their mid to late twenties and I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt.

Awesome lineup of legs

Not a cankle to be seen. And who knew they had false eyelashes in the '30s?

Legs and Lipstick

By the shape of the legs, tap dancing must be a good exercise for these girls. They all have lovely limbs. The lipstick and eyelashes look like they are getting prepared for some kind of stage production.

Trans-Lux Building

NBC's Red and Blue network stations (WRC and WMAL) had studios in the Trans-Lux Building on 14th Street between New York Ave and H street. The Trans-Lux theater originally showed newsreels and short subjects. As a child, I was taken there due to the short attention span of youth.

Buses and dames

More of the latter please! Boys will be boys and all that.


They were tap dancers, as shown by the metal "taps" on the shoes of the seated girl. You definitely could hear their routine on the radio.

BTW, LOVE, love, love their outfits!!

Not good to fantasize

I wonder who the third on the right is. Wow.


They're wearing heavy makeup. For rehearsal. For radio.

Black lips

From the black lips, it looks like the glass plates were made with an orthochromatic emulsion that wasn't sensitive to red.

Isn't 1938 a little late for glass plates?

[Evidently not. - Dave]

Died and went to Heaven

That interviewer is one lucky guy. I wonder if he went home alone that night.

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