Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Party Like It's 1929

If I was ever going to lie about my age, I'd be saying I was in my 80s just so I could be associated with the bitchingest decade ever: the 1920s. If they ever have the 1920s again, I'm so first in line.

"Take a number, bub."

The 20s pretty much gave and gave and gave. What other decade came up with flappers, dancing on the wings of biplanes, going out to find some hooch without it suggesting something sleazy, really good cocktails, and much more. The women all spewed acerbic witticisms in vaguely New England accents while careening around the countryside in white-walled cadillacs with running boards, and the men all wore tuxedoes (even to bed!) and said "spiffo" a lot. There was surrealism and futurism and existentialism and some very nice poetry but really, that was just window-dressing. When the 1920s came along, they essentially just hung out a big sign saying "HEY LETS PARTY it'll be div" and let things rip from there on in.

"Let yourself out, toots, I'm too stinko to get me up."

They called it the Roaring Twenties. Can you imagine what a decade would have to do to be called "Roaring" these days? Think about it, the Roaring Noughties. It sounds like an old timey euphemism for genital inflammation. That said, if any burlesque troupes want to take on the name The Roaring Noughties, it's yours.

But one thing I've just realised is where the 20s let us down. Because looking at old footage like this:

I've come to understand that THE CHARLESTON IS THE DUMBEST DANCE EVER. Now that clip starts off with both a drunk-looking flapper and some liveried dancing midget, which should be a sure sign of gold. But where did the 20s go wrong? Was it all that cheap hooch and smoking cigars in the bathtub and somesuch that addled people's brains?

There's some great dancing in here, but when you get to the point where the fur-coated women are attempting to charleston across the street, I'm sure you'll agree with me.

And that's not to mention the bastard younger sibling dance move, Monkey Knees.

Wherein, believe it or not, it actually appears as if one is swapping one's knees. The drollery. And while normally a solitary vice, the above image suggests multi-party monkey knees, though this may have just been a cunning way to exchange drugs or phone numbers or something.

But what also strikes me is the similarity between the robotic mindlessness of the charleston and that moronic-yet-hypnotic French (or Belgian) Jump I posted a little while back. The following clip illustrates it well, and is one of the few good demonstrations of the Charleston I've been able to find.

Maybe if more Charleston dancers had been as fly as these guys, and had been doing it to some old Daft Punk track, well, things would have turned out a little different (IE NO WAR AND/OR PROHIBITION?)


Anonymous said...

Give it a few years, and it'll be the twenties again. Geez, that's scary...

richardwatts said...

My I join you in the line to relive the 1920's please Mr Dancing? Defintely one of my favourite decades, although I am rather fond of the 1940's as well...