Here's the abstract: by 1960, in Great Britain, like in the United States, the majority of Orthodox Jews saw nothing religiously wrong with mixed dancing at social events, even in the synagogue. Although such a practice would be exceedingly difficult if not impossible to justify from halachic sources, the rabbis either saw nothing really wrong with it, or justified it as a lesser of evils or they saw nothing at all. Yet in September of 1960 the Beth Din of Manchester took a stand against it. Following this, and feeling that they did not go far enough, some months later other rabbis held a conference in Leeds, criticized mixed and dancing and publicly called for a ban on it. This generated a heated correspondence (including the assertion that mixed dancing causes illegitimate children) and a heated editorial in the pages of the Jewish Chronicle. The editorial in particular was very intemperate, being an editorial, saying that the action of those rabbis raises questions about their "emotional stability" and "mental hygiene." This was too much for the rabbis, who included R. Yitzchak Weiss, and collectively they wrote the Jewish Chronicle a letter (dated December 19, 1960) stating that they demanded a prominently placed apology, which in itself would not be enough, and therefore they also demand monetary compensation for defamation. In addition, they served notice that the editor was hereby called to a Din Torah. The editor responded that first of all the facts are in his favor, and secondly he cannot submit to the will of a Din Torah as this is a matter of Freedom of the Press, and a free press is integral to society. The editor himself did, however, appear before the London Beth Din in what he called "an act of courtesy to the Chief Rabbi and his court," to tell them that he must decline to take part in a Din Torah.
The controversy itself continued pro and con in the Letters pages of the paper. Meanwhile, R. Weiss wrote a responsum (dated the last day of Chanukah, or December 21, 1960) in which the matter ("of the editor of a Jewish newspaper who brazenly insulted famed rabbis, who reproached [Jews] regarding the great breech in so-called Orthodox synagogues, who hold dances with youths and young ladies dancing together, God help us. And this editor did not see fit to [help] repair the breech in Israel, on the contrary, he opened his trap in a lead editorial in this popular newspaper to speak words opposing the rabbis who are exerting their souls to try to uproot this practice which has spread in Israel, God help us.") and the penalty for insulting a talmid chochom (a litra of gold) is discussed. The precise weight of the fine in gold is also discussed. One assumes that no liter of gold was every paid, although the responsum was printed for posterity and halachic precedent.
Here is the editorial (December 2, 1960) and the rabbinic response (January 13, 1961), followed by some earlier and later discussions:
Dated Sep. 9, 1960, here is a notice about the Manchester Beth Din coming out against mixed dancing. We see here a clarification that it's only about synagogue fundraisers (so everyone should relax). Someone points out that this is untenable, as in Judaism "there is not one law for synagogues and another for laymen." It's also unlikely that the Manchester Beth Din really meant only in synagogues, as Rabbi Weiss was one of the dayanim (rabbinic judges).
Next is a notice about the meeting in Leeds for the purpose of deploring mixed dancing. It notes that not one local rabbi showed up. The comments of Rabbi Weiss and others are abstracted (although through the passage of time it is Rabbi Weiss who is the most famous, it would seem here that Rabbi Babad was the leading rabbi present at the time). The same issue featured the editorial, depicted above.
The first reactions begin coming in. Here (December 9) we see one reaction, "the rabbis are trying to drive us back to the ghetto."
The same issue includes two letters. The first letter, by Rabbi A. Babad himself, compares the language of the editorial to the Jewsektzia, or Jewish Communists in Russia, of the early 1920s, who persecuted practicing Jews. Further, he writes that if the mental hygiene of himself and the other rabbis are to be questioned, then so are the mental hygiene of the Mishna Berurah and R. Akiva Eger, whom they had quoted. He calls the attack "vulgar" and "unprecedented" in the annals of the Jewish Chronicle. The next writer notes that a newspaper is not the forum for interpreting Jewish law, and that the public may well feel perplexed on the matter, and can't the Beth Din of the Chief Rabbi comment?
The same issue also includes a comment by the Ben Azai column (the pseudonym for Chaim Bermant). He basically says that the condemners on both sides are avoiding the real issue, which is the disconnect between how people actually behave and what the halacha says. As for where he sides, he opines that trying to prevent young Jews from dancing in synagogue halls is misguided, for it will only result in them dancing "in worse places and with worse partners.":
Next is a notice in the December 16, 1960 issue called On With the Dance, where it is noted that on the ground those who want to dance simply continue to do so. "And now, for those of you who believe in mixed dancing - let's start!" said the president of a certain organization, as he signaled the beginning of a dance:
The same issue includes several letters.
The first is from one of the Leeds rabbis who did not show up at the banning event. This rabbi clarifies that he did not have "the good sense" to stay way, and his non-attendance was not out of a lack of respect for those rabbis, nor was it because he lacks convictions. He says that he did not attend because he believed that a meeting like this causes more harm than good to Orthodoxy. In addition, all over the country such dances are held, and the rabbi questions whether it was right to single out Leeds.
The next letter is from another rabbi, an organizer of the event, who says that mixed dancing is yehareg ve-'al ya'avor (i.e., one of the sins which is so heinous that a Jew must be willing to give up their life rather than transgress. In support of this assertion he refers to the Chafetz Chaim's Nidche Yisrael). He continues to offer the view that the reason why the Leeds rabbis stayed away was plainly and simply "fear of causing displeasure to their masters," by which he must mean the ba'alei batim (laymen). Finally, to the suggestion of the editorial that they recognize that in the general society dancing is perfectly moral, he says "Should we eat bacon because the Gentiles do so?" Furthermore, the same way that the overwhelming majority of Jews who see no problem with it (per the editorial) - well, the overwhelming majority desecrate the Shabbath.
Next is a letter which calls the anti-dancing campaign "bigoted and fanatical," which cause Judaism to be seen as frivolous and trivial. In reply to Rabbi Babad's comment about the Jewsektzia, the writer says that is is no accident that many of their leaders came from Orthdox homes and were even "children of rabbanim." This is not mere chance, but a consequence of fanaticism.
Next, a writer connects the affair with a different lead article in the newspaper which deplored the lack of a religious element in youth clubs. He says that you can't take this view yet att the same time simply reject a clear halachic pronouncement.
But the issue would not go away. In the December 23 issue there were a few more letters:
The first letter addresses the point about simply disregarding a pesak halacha. This calls for a pesak (halachic ruling) from the Chief Rabbi that no rabbis in the country have the right to pronounce a pesak without his prior consent. This would prevent confusion and allow the Chief Rabbi to maintain religious order. With regards to Talmudic statements quoted "in support of the extreme point of view" the writers suggests that we keep a sense of proportion. The Talmud contains the teachings of more than 2000 men, given over many hundreds of years. Many Talmudic sayings are confined by its time and the knowledge of the rabbi, however great, who said it. We cannot be pinned down for all eternity by such sayings. We should take a page from the "human[e?] Hillel approach," which even adjusted the laws of the Torah over 1900 years ago!
Next is a letter noting that while there are many "eternal and unalterable Halachot" in the Bible and in the Talmud, many are subject to interpretation by the generations. The example he gives is the "firm opinion" against listening to a woman singing in the Talmud. Yet, does that make the 20th century opera house a centre of immorality? QED. Furthermore, R. Babad is wrong to claim that criticism of him is criticism of the Chafetz Chaim, for the latter lived in a very different environment with very different standards of modesty. Does R. Babad really follow the lifestyle of the Chafetz Chaim across the board? Did the Chafetz Chaim approve of university education and reading secular literature? Furthermore, when all is well Jewishly in the towns and cities which those rabbis are from, then let them deal with dancing in Leeds. Is there no hillul shabbat in Sunderland (R. Babad's place of residence) or Manchester? As it is the actions of these rabbis seems a "fruitless display of Don Quixoterie" to many Jews, and it brings the rabbinate into disrepute.
Another writer, signing under the group name Youth for Tora, really condemns the editorial. He is sure that "no other paper in the world could render such an attack on its spiritual leaders." Furthermore, it is wrong to raise the morality of the British general society as a guage, for every year "1000 girls of under the age of 16 fill the hospitals with illegitimate children." This is the result of mixed dancing.
The next week it continued (December 30, 1960):
The first writer says that halacha is definitely not a monopoly of the rabbis.
Another writers asks if the opponents of mixed dancing have not ever rode a subway (that's me talking) during rush hour, when every sort of person, married, single, male, female - are in a constant state of physical contact much worse than any dance floor? The dancer has to concentrate on the technical elements of the dance rather than on his partner (so says he) but the traveler actually has to pay attention to those around him, so that he can figure out where and how to stand, how to make an exit, and so forth. If illegitimate children are the result of mixed dancing, then what lies in store for subway riders?
The next writer tries to inject some humour, and points out that one thing is neglected in the discussion, namely the alternative to mixed dancing. He says that this morning he performed "a rock 'n' roll, a Gay Gordons, and a Hora all by myself," rather unsuccessfully. Instead of feeling "purified in the soul" (i.e., by not dancing with a partner) he felt "slightly insane."
The issue also includes a letter about microphones on shabbat, for at the very same time the controversy about microphones was also brewing on those pages.
On January 6, 1961 there were yet more letters:
The first writer is of the view that the whole thing is simply nuts. He says that the religious leaders "degrade themselves by proclaiming to their diminishing flock the sinfulness of perfectly innocent behavior." He ends by stating that it would be a tragedy if "our great humanistic tradition were to be stultified once and for all." He says that he sides with reason in this controversy.
The next writer, a rabbi, states that the purity of family life is rapidly going down the tubes, with divorce on the increase. The cause of this is mixed dancing. Furthermore, it is not a rabbinical prohibition, as some stated, but was banned by God himself; the prohibition is Leviticus 18:19, pertaining to Niddah, and unmarried women who do not go to the Mikva always are in a state of Niddah.
The next writer says that when he was 12 and a half years old he became religious, and considers himself Orthodox. He says that the only halachos which he kept only half-heartedly, were those pertaining to mixed swimming and dancing. Eventually, he says, he tried it. He says that he can state that having to spend all of his time and energies in dance halls getting girls to dance with him, and the dancing itself, he can say that he found no time for the Yetzer Horah. He thinks that the rabbis should try mixed dancing themselves - if they find it sexually alluring, then they should resign. He closes by stating that Judaism is a beautiful religion, and one is allowed to think for oneself. He compares the additions and accretion of new laws to a beautiful woman who is afraid of losing her beauty, so she keeps applying more and more make-up. But rather than being afraid of wiping off the grimy old make-up, she should realize that she has nothing to fear from washing her face! Only then can one see that she is truly beautiful - no matter how old she is.
Finally, a writers says regarding the suggestion that the Beth Din make a pronouncement that halacha is not made by a pronouncement of one Beth Din. While true that a community will follow its leader, this is not binding over other communities. London and Britain is not one such small, tightly knit community. Furthemore, having already found that mixed dancing is wrong, a contrary decision would be of value only if a greater scholar than those who made the decision refutes it. Asking the Beth Din to make such a decision would only cause disunity.
Finally, finally, finally - the Jewish Chronicle did the sensible thing and asked various British rabbis their view and found that "Ministers Divided on Mixed Dancing (January 13, 1961). They asked 11 United Synagogue rabbis (called Ministers). Eight said there was nothing wrong with mixed dancing, two declined to comment and only one said it was wrong. The Jewish Chronicle uncovered a nugget from its own archives, noting that in March 1911 a very similar rabbinical conference took place in Leeds (alluded to by an earlier writer) and in response the newspaper printed an editiorial which stated that ". . . Dancing came also under the ban of the Rabbis and was denounced. And is this last word of Rabbinism on purity of life? Don't dance, don't go the theatre, and wear Shaitels?"
Finally, to mention once again the responsum by R. Weiss, he discusses the penalty for four sort of insults. They are insults against:
1) A regular, good Jew.
2) A Torah scholar.
3) A communal rabbi, judge or famed posek
4) An insult against a rabbi specifically for his teaching the proper religious way.
This responsum goes through various aspects of the subject, and ends with a detailed discussion of the exact weigh in gold (in grams) that the fine should consist of.