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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Quotable Fri Feb 15 2008

Quotable Friday

Every Friday is Quotable Friday on the book club blog, where we highlight a notable passage from a book with a Chicago connection. This week's quotable is from The Public Dance Halls of Chicago by Louise de Koven Bowen, an investigation into and condemnation of Chicago's dance halls, circa 1910. You may read the complete text online at the Library of Congress website. It is part of the online exhibit, "An American Ballroom Companion: Dance Instruction Manuals, ca.1490-1920"


"All the investigators report that up to about eleven p.m., generally speaking, the dances are well conducted; the crowd then begins to show the effect of too much liquor. Men and women become intoxicated and dance indecently such dances as 'Walkin' the Dog,' 'On the Puppy's Tail,' 'Shaking the Shimmy,' 'The Dip,' 'The Stationary Wiggle,' etc, In some instances, little children—of whom there are often large numbers present—are given liquor and become intoxicated, much to the amusement of their elders. Many of them are forgotten by their parents in the excitement of the dance, and play upon the filthy floor, witnesses of all kinds of degradation.

"At most halls the crowds begin drinking their liquor from glasses, then later they take, it from bottles and toward the close of the evening it is brought in by cases. One investigator counted one hundred empty cases of beer bottles and a large number of empty cases of wine bottles in one room at a recent North Side dance."

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