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c. 1966

The Batdance craze of the mid-1960s

Get out on the dance floor.

With the best will in the world, it’s not always easy to get young children up and enthused about dance classes. But here’s a solution — dress them as Batman (Batmen? Batchildren?). Whatever. It worked.

Yale Joel / Time LIFE / Getty Images

Best of all, legendary LIFE photographer Yale Joel was on hand to record the results. Because 1966 was a big year for Batman. The caped crusader stepped out of his DC comic book and onto the small screen on January 12th, airing twice weekly.

Yale Joel / Time LIFE / Getty Images

The show starred Adam West as Bruce Wayne, aka Batman, and Burt Ward as Dick Grayson, aka Robin. Together they defeated the Joker, the Penguin, the Riddler, Catwoman and a whole panoply of lesser villains wreaking havoc in Gotham City.

Yale Joel / Time LIFE / Getty Images

The show was played for laughs, with a knowing irony that made it irresistible to both children and adults. PBS described the show as “The biggest TV phenomenon of the mid-1960s.” 

Yale Joel / Time LIFE / Getty Images

But in 1966, LIFE Magazine took praise to a whole new level: 

“Every once in a while an event occurs which seems so exquisitely right for its own time that one is left gasping at the infinite perfection of the Grand Design. Such an event was the arrival of the TV show Batman.

Yale Joel / Time LIFE / Getty Images

All of which made a Batman cape the ideal bait to entice recalcitrant kids onto the dance floor and over the bar, and up the stepladder.

Yale Joel / Time LIFE / Getty Images

Though, interestingly enough, the kids could also direct any excess aggression they might experience onto an inflatable punching bag — in the form of Superman.

Yale Joel / Time LIFE / Getty Images
Yale Joel / Time LIFE / Getty Images
Yale Joel / Time LIFE / Getty Images
Yale Joel / Time LIFE / Getty Images


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