Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Katherine Williams: The Flapper Era

Katherine Williams 321004341

The Flapper Era

The Flapper Era began during World War I.  Liberal beliefs were forming, sparking a new age of living free, dressing provocative and drinking excessively. A flapper girl is defined as a "the tough-talking party girl with bobbed hair, a spangled headband and a shocking disdain for propriety" (Dangerous 1). The name derived from the idea of young women spreading their wings learning how to take flight. Other theories suggest that the title came from pigtailed girls with their hair flapping on their back. Flapper girls originally had a derogatory reputation in society as being a prostitute, but eventually the name evolved to describe a lively young teenager. However, flapper girls did have a reputation for fast living. The Flapper Era was a time that "inaugurated a revolutionary change in sexual manners and morals still constitutes an enduring stereotypes and a "new freedom" for the American girl" (McGovern 1).  They were independent young women who traveled to jazz clubs at night where they would dance provocatively, smoke cigarettes and date indefinitely. One of the main differences of these women is their consumption of alcohol during the Prohibition. Here is a video that gives an accurate representation of these flapper girls in their element:

The Prohibition created a culture that would force society to drink in secret. People would go to a Speakeasy to drink and dance to jazz. Flapper girls would particular favor this synchronized music of the "Jazz Age". This music was mostly accredited to African American culture and traditions. The 1920's youth was highly influenced by this style that encouraged rebellion. With this new music came new moves. Dances such as the "Charleston" and the "Turkey Trot" as well as the tango and slow waltz became popular. Examples of the dances are below:

The Flapper Era, however, did not survive the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and quickly ended due to The Great Depression. This time of scandalous dressing and luxurious living came to a close and the hard knox were under way.

Works Cited 
"Dance in the Jazz Age." Dance in the Jazz Age. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Nov. 2012. <http://socialdance.stanford.edu/syllabi/jazz_age.htm>. 
"Dangerous And Funny: She's Still A Flapper." Review. (n.d.): n. pag. Academic Search Complete. Web. 18 Nov. 2012. <http:/http://lib-ezproxy.tamu.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/1015212891?accountid=7082>. 
McGovern, James R. "The American Woman: Pre-World War I Manners and Freedom." Journal of American History (n.d.): n. pag. Web. 19 Nov. 2012. 
YouTube. Dir. Aaron1912. YouTube. YouTube, 06 Nov. 2008. Web. 19 Nov. 2012. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5DMTWCSU5a8>. 

Classic Blues Style in the World of Jazz During the Prohibition

by Georgeanne Palmer 321004325

A strewn out voice of tune that lingers around nightclubs in booming cities and around the hearts of those listening to the saxophone trembles to their sweet ears with the words of men and women who have suffered through life's good and evil times.  In 1920 the prohibition law was passed eliminating the sale of alcohol, thus men and women pursued ways to oversee the law by partaking in speakeasies with alcohol, smoke, and jazz to uplift their souls.  Political changes enabling African Americans as well as whites to migrate mainly from a rural to urban setting enabling several new cultures to emerge and progressively integrate into something else was a way that jazz was moved into new ways of music.  William Barrow in his article pronounces that, "The Jazz Age or the Roaring Twenties, was a period of significant cultural upheaval on both sides of the color line."  Thus, segregation and music was probably one of the only things that brought people of different color together.   Nevertheless, both black and white bands flourished and attracted blacks and whites from all corners of the city.  At this point the classic or city blues emerged in the 1920's where women singers especially with a full sized jazz band roared on the stages of brilliant nightclubs throughout the city, similar to vaudeville.  The two sub-styles that came from the classic blues were the vaudeville and southern style, used similarly to the country style which focused on the vocal sound more than putting on a show focused around a one man band. Shown in the video below is an example of what a night club looked like in the 1920's.


One of the most inspirational city blues artists was Bessie Smith; who developed a prestigious name for herself by enduring an incredible voice that tugged at the hearts of thousands while taking the nickname “Empress of the Blues”.  In the article based on the blues and jazz, Christopher Brooks declares that,  “In the final recording sessions of blues singer Bessie Smith, selections like “Gimme a Pigfoot,” “Do Your Duty,” “Take Me for a Buggy Ride,” and “Down in the Dumps” she establishes a clear marriage of the new swing style and traditional blues.”  The age of Bessie Smith was one that we look to today as the soul and heart of jazz during the prohibition, shown in the video below.   

Here is another example of Bessie Smith with Louis Armstrong who was also a very influential jazz artist that played during the 1920's and the prohibition.

                                                                    Works Cited

"Blues and Jazz." The African American Almanac. Ed. Christopher A. Brooks. 11th ed. Detroit: Gale, 2011. 1173-1242. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 18 Nov. 2012.

Barlow, William. "African American Review." African American Review. n. page. Web. 19 Nov. 2012. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2307/3042311>.

Keepnews, Peter. "PLAYING FOR KEEPS." The New York Times Book Review 25 Oct. 1987. General OneFile. Web. 20 Nov. 2012.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Speak Easy of Jazz

By Gene Wisniewski 

Jazz music rose further than ever before during the prohibition era. In a time where booze was an even hotter commodity from its recent outlawing, underground saloons named “Speakeasies” rose at an astonishing rate. These “Speakeasies” became so popular that “…at one point in New York city alone, Manhattan had over 5000 speakeasies” (Ward and Burns).  Amongst all this competition there had to be ways besides just serving liquor and beer to attract customers. This meant more jobs for musicians; Jazz musicians in particular.
The problem with prohibition was just simply the fact that most Americans did not want to stop drinking. If anything Americans wanted to drink more because alcohol almost became somewhat of a novelty with the idea of some sort of rebellion against the higher authority behind every sip of “firewater”. Mobs of the prohibition saw an opportunity of business in the bootlegging of liquor and the hay day of speak easies was born. Because of this, these millions of people who were looking for a buzz and a good time flocked to these speakeasies. Mobs were supplying liquor to the clubs at such a large quantity that it was almost as if it were never outlawed. People just never would quit drinking and America’s most notorious out law, Al Capone, was quoted saying “Let the worthy people of Chicago get their liquor the best way they can” (Capone). And the best way they could was through these speakeasies.
Mob influence didn’t stop at just the supply of alcohol though. Obviously each establishment served the same commodity (a club or bar setting where people loosened up and the booze flowed as freely as tap water), but what set each establishment apart from the rest was what band was playing at each joint. Gangsters such as Capone influenced the growth of jazz just because of the fact they supplied liquor to these illegal saloons where jazz was played since it was the “…music of his time and place…”  which in turn caused Jazz musicians to gravitate “…to Chicago where they delighted audiences…” (Bergreen). With this, jazz rose to become one of the most popular forms of music in America.
Prohibition had done exactly the opposite of what it had intended to do. It intended to increase morals among Americans but instead people started coming out of their “shells” to the speakeasies. The men came to drink and the music meant dancing and where there was dancing there were women. Because of the popularity of speakeasies, prohibition gave birth to some of the most famous jazz musicians such as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Bojangles Robinson, and Ethel Waters.  
The women that showed up to listen and dance to jazz showed up in a manner never before seen in America with their bobbed hair, ruby red lipstick and short dresses. This “lack of morals” that had newly appeared in women was blamed on the speakeasies and the jazz music they provided.
As a result this became somewhat rebellious on its own and of course a higher growth in appeal followed. With this it was soon realized that Jazz was becoming a commercial commodity. Jazz had become “…a dance craze, a form of light entertainment…” (Scaruffi).  Jazz had gone so far as to become a career for those musicians who attempted to profit from “serious” music but had failed. From this this transition Swing music was born. With the birth of Swing, Jazz was not just an art anymore but had actually become an industry. With this new form of jazz, came a taste of disdain from more serious musicians who wanted to move away from it. To them Swing music made Jazz no longer an art but only a means for profit and it was something they wanted no part of. The public, on the other hand, loved swing music. Even after prohibition when there were no longer any speak easies, people still flocked to establishments that played swing so they could dance. Swing was viewed as a demoralizing music so it had the same appeal to the youth at the time that rock music had to youth in the fifties.
Swing had become an unstoppable force in music whether the most professional artists liked it or not and it didn’t stop until its popularity eventually died down in the fifties. Prohibition was one of the most unsuccessful attempts at lawmaking in US history but with it was birthed one of the most successful genres of music to ever have originated here. With Prohibition it spread the wonderful sound of Jazz to a more mainstream level where it was no longer class limited but instead had seeped its way into all social classes. It did at least to those part of each social class who were willing to slip away from” Johnny Law” into an underground establishment to steal a few sips of that forbidden feel good. If it weren’t for prohibition and the gangs that fed booze to the speakeasies, Jazz greats such as the aforementioned may have never risen to fame and never have gotten to share their contribution to society with the masses. Critics can say what they may about the commercialization of Jazz Swing music that was born during Prohibition, but it is arguably one of the most important eras of not only pop music, but music as a whole.

Works Cited
Bergreen, L. Capone, the man and the era. 1st Touchstone ed. Simon and Schuster, 1996. Print.

Capone, Deirdre Marie. Uncle Al Capone - The Untold Story from Inside His Family. 1st. Recaplodge LLC, 2010. Print.

Scaruffi, P. (2005). A History of Jazz Music. TM.

Ward, Geoffrey C., and Ken Burns. Jazz, A History Of America's Music. Knopf, 2002. Print.

The Effects of Prohibition on American Jazz and Society

by Kyle Fisher

American Prohibition marked several significant changes in the course of American cultural history. When the Eighteenth Amendment was established, its new policies outlawed the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol, causing the American people to react in many unpredictable ways. As we shall see, Prohibition in American had a profound effect on music in the 1920s and eventually led to the intermingling of black and white cultures through the medium of music.

These changes started mostly in American “speakeasies”, or undercover bars, where bootleggers and gangsters secretly provided alcohol and entertainment to people of all classes during Prohibition. As these speakeasy owners and operators quickly discovered, it was necessary to depend on lesser-known musicians for bar entertainment in order to help avoid detection by the local law enforcement. Consequentially, speakeasy owners began hiring local black jazz musicians to play for customers, which as it turned out, was a hugely successful idea! The atmosphere offered by jazz to the party crowd at the time was irresistible and soon speakeasies everywhere picked up on the trend and were establishing jazz as fun, exciting, daring music.

A speakeasy from the 1920s.

One of the reasons jazz spread so quickly during the beginning of Prohibition was the simultaneous introduction of the commercial radio station. According to Piero Scaruffi, the first stations opened in 1920, and quickly "[jazz] percolated through the air waves”, reaching nearly every music center of the country in less than a decade. Following this radio revolution were the first phonographic recordings of jazz, some of which took place at Thomas Edison’s very own studio. These recordings were very popular and sold wildly across the country.

An example of one of the first Prohibition-age recordings is "Save a Little Dram for Me" by Bert Williams (listen here: Save a Little Dram for Me).

As time went on and jazz continued to develop in various parts of America, different cities began to distinguish their own styles of jazz. For example, New Orleanians improved upon the original ensemble-oriented style of jazz arrangement which left little room for improvisation. Chicagoans, on the other hand, started utilizing a very free style of jazz in which individual players were given room to improvise. As David Johnson pointed out, "It may have been that the scarce musical sophistication of the gangsters [speakeasy operators] made it possible for jazz soloists to break the rules of New Orleans' band playing."

Perhaps the most profound effect of Prohibition on American music and society was the creation of one of America’s first multi-racial mainstream genres. Many black jazz musicians, such as Duke Ellington, owed their popularity to whites’ interest in jazz during the Prohibition Era, and similarly, many white jazz musicians like Bix Beiderbecke owed the style of their music to the black roots of New Orleanian jazz. Musicians aside, jazz during Prohibition was a type of music enjoyed by both blacks and whites alike.

The Great Gatsby (2013) depicts the multiracial crowds that attended jazz performances during American Prohibition.
To sum things up, jazz was a force that grew during Prohibition through speakeasies, radio waves, and phonographic records, which fused parts of black and white culture together. To this day, jazz is both a black and white tradition whose origins glimmer colorfully through the otherwise monochromatic age of American Prohibition. The changes that took place during the Prohibition Era made a mark on American music and society that will not be forgotten.

Jazz Music and Dancing of the Prohibition

Blaine Gibke 821006767
Jazz Music and Dancing of the Prohibition 

The Roaring Twenties brought about a radical change in the very fabric of American society. The economy was booming and the culture was quickly moving away from its conventional conservative roots to a more liberal country as a whole. Women were dressing more outrageously and straying farther from their traditional roles. However, with the Prohibition of alcohol, people were more contained and not able to act as crazy as they wanted to. Thus, speakeasies were born. These were secret places where one could obtain alcohol. For example, where on Manhattan Island could one buy alcohol during the Prohibition? The answer may be more surprising than you think. One could purchase alcohol in “open saloons, restaurants, night clubs, bars behind peepholes, dancing academies, drugstores, delicatessens, confectionaries, soda fountains”(Speakeasies 1) and more. This quote shows that even though it was an illegal substance, it was readily accessible through easy means to the general public. There was a need for entertainment at these illegal bars, and jazz quickly became the most popular type of music during the Prohibition. However, some people were not fans of jazz music. They thought that it was a “Bolshevik element protesting against law and order.”(Thinkquest 1) Jazz music was much more popular with the young folk, as dancing to jazz music at speakeasies became a popular way for kids to blow off steam. Furthermore, singers went to speakeasies as well, to perform. Duke Ellington, Ethel Waters, and the Astaires were just some of many who performed in speakeasies across the nation.  A popular dance of this time period was the Charleston, involving swaying arms and kicking feet. Flappers soon started doing the dance in groups, or with partners. The jazz music of the 1920’s was born out a “new, post-World War I optimism, a prevailing sense that something new was happening, that America was finally breaking from European culture and coming into its own.”(NEA 1) Two larger ensembles that really grew and flourished during the Prohibition was the bands led by Jean Goldkette and Paul Whiteman. Together, they really paved the way for unsegregated blending of jazz music, then soon after Duke Ellington waltzed right down that paved road. The Duke’s uncanny ability to create new styles and forms of music was instrumental in his popularity worldwide. However, not even the  immense popularity of jazz could prepare America for what would come next: The Great Depression. 

Here is an example of the Charleston dance being performed by a flapper girl, first alone, then with an instructional and partner dance. 

This is a video of the song entitled The Mooche by Duke Ellington. Songs like this and other jazz pieces similar to this were performed in speakeasies all over the country. 

 This video is another example of popular R&B music of the time. However, as a female vocalist she did not receive as much recognition as the jazz hits of the same era. She is still noteworthy though, and greatly contributed to the music of the Prohibition. 

Works Cited
"2 The Jazz Age and The Swing Era - Lesson Essay." 2 The Jazz Age and The Swing Era - Lesson Essay. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Nov. 2012. <http://www.neajazzintheschools.org/lesson2/index.php?uv=s>.
"The Rise of Speakeasies." The Rise of Speakeasies. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Nov. 2012. <http://www.albany.edu/~wm731882/speakeasies_final.html>.
"ThinkQuest : 404." ThinkQuest. Oracle Foundation, n.d. Web. 19 Nov. 2012. <http://library.thinkquest.org/04oct/00492/Music.htm>.