Capezio Master Tap Mat
"Makes Practice a Pleasure"
This ad is taken from the back cover of the June, 1936 edition of American Dancer Magazine. Anyone studying ballet, tap, or almost any kind of dance knows Capezio for dance shoes, tap shoes, costumes, etc.
"Now you can practice in front of the radio if you wish without scratching the floor - picking up the rugs and being generally inconvenienced. THE MASTER TAP MAT is perfect from every angle!” claims this ad, and no doubt it was true.
The size is 3' x 5' and you can roll it up when you don't use it. There are illustrations of male and female dancers for inspiration. The price at that time was $4.95 for the mat; 25 cents for the magazine.
The image of the girl in this ad reminds me of Ruby Keeler, hoofer extraordinaire. This was the time of the hugely successful Busby Berkeley Musicals, which featured Keeler and costars like Dick Powell and James Cagney. Keeler was a big star and one of America's sweethearts at the time — a terrific dancer, too.
From Wikipedia: “Ruby Keeler was among the first tap dancing stars of motion pictures. She was an Irish Step Dancer. Irish Step Dancing is where all tap dancing originated. Both the shoes and the style were different from regular tap dance. Instead of metal taps, the soles were wooden, and hard. Buck dancers stayed in relatively the same place on stage, and their concern was the rhythm coming from their feet, rather than how they looked on stage. They stayed on the balls of their feet most of time, which meant that their torsos moved very little, and the movements were isolated to below the waist. Because of this style of movement, the early Buck dancers often appeared less graceful in comparison with later tap dancers.”
When I started tap dancing, I thought I might like to practice at home. I didn't have a special tap mat then so I used an old kotatsu table top. A kotatsu is a very Japanese table. It is a low table frame with a heater in the center. It is covered with a futon blanket to keep heat inside where you put your feet. You put the table top over the futon blanket so that you can eat comfortably. It comes from the days before central heating systems. An old kotatsu table top was my first practice "mat". As you can imagine practicing tap this way at home is quite noisy and I couldn't move around much. So I just gave up and practiced more intently in the studio. Don't all beginners want to practice at home?
— Shinichi Matsumoto
When you need Capezio products or other fine dancewear, try All About Dance. They have great prices and you get to support Tap Wonderland at the same time. Such a deal! 35% off at All About Dance!!!