The dance hall was a symbol of social, cultural and political change. From the mid-1920s until the mid-1960s, the dance hall occupied a pivotal place in the culture of working- and lower-middle-class communities in Britain. Its emergence and popularity following the First World War reflected improvements in the social and economic well-being of the working and lower middle classes. The architecture of dance halls reflected these modernising trends, as well as a democratisation of pleasure. The very name adopted by the modern dance hall, ‘palais de danse’, emphasises this ambition. Affordable luxury was a key part of their attraction. This article examines how the architecture of dance halls represented moments of optimism, escapism and ‘modernity’ in British history in the period 1918–65. It provides the first overview of dance halls from an architectural and spatial history perspective.