Party Like it's 1920: 100 Years Later, Were the 20s Really Roaring?
If you’ve ever seen movies like The Great Gatsby (2013), The Artist (2011) or Chicago (2002), it’s easy to think of the 1920s as one big party. All the nightowls frequently indulged in music, dancing and illegal cocktails with the flappers, shebas and bearcats until daylight — but were the 1920s really that roaring?
Yes, there was an economic boom and a cultural revolution with the invention of some major technologies. However, not everyone had the money to throw Gatsby-level ragers. As we approach the centennial anniversary of the Roaring Twenties, let’s take a look back and see just how wild their lives really were.
What Made the 20s So Decadent?
Times were certainly changing in America at the start of the 1920s. More Americans were living in cities than in rural farmlands for the first time. At the same time, innovations in technology were up, creating a surge in mass-produced consumerism that had everyone running to department stores. Automobiles, telephones, radios, refrigerators and other common devices were sold at price points that more families could afford.
What If You Didn’t Have a Lot of Money?
While people did have a sense of freedom to express themselves, not everyone had the funds to throw incredibly decadent parties. However, their appetite for consumerism and leisure activities still ballooned along with the optimistic economy. For those who couldn’t indulge in opulent parties and nightclubs, there were plenty of other popular ways to enjoy themselves.
So Were There Actually Any Roaring Parties?
If you were among the fortunate city-dwellers with access to enormous bank accounts, then the 20s were most definitely a roaring good time. Plenty of nightclubs played jazz, blues and dance music long into the night for revelers. Many of the nightclubs were also considered speakeasies because they provided alcohol, which was illegal during Prohibition. Those clubs were where you found the trendy flappers, adorned in short skirts, bobbed haircuts, heavy makeup and with little time for society’s pressure to be polite young women.