The Eintänzer: a Social Type of the Weimar Republic

gigoloThe ‘New Woman’ is well known as a female (role) model and character in Weimar culture. But what about embodiments of Weimar masculinity? The traditional German image of manliness had taken a serious hit by the nation’s defeat in the war, so it is obvious that masculinity was as contentious a field as womanhood. However, there is not much research out there yet about this issue.

One exception is the character of the Eintänzer (or taxi dancer) – a man paid to dance at balls and other social gatherings in a society that had a serious surplus of women. Mihaela Petrescu has published two articles on literary interpretations of this phenomenon in New German Critique and Monatshefte. Claus Heinrich Bill has outlined a cultural history of this ‘social type’ in Zeitschrift für deutsche Adelsforschung (which seems to be a one-man labour of love rather than a scholarly journal – which highlights the dearth of serious research about Weimar masculinity).
Many German officers worked as Eintänzer after they had been decommissioned after the war, and Billy Wilder’s experiences as a taxi dancer in the Weimar Republic are well known now. This model of contemporary manhood also found its way into popular culture: the contemporary film ‘Seine Hoheit, der Eintänzer‘ (1927) and the songs ‘Schöner Gigolo, armer Gigolo‘ (1928) and ‘Lieber kleiner Eintänzer’ (1930) all paint a picture of damaged German masculinity. Even today, the Eintänzer still exists – as a character in popular culture and a social phenomenon.

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