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  • Writer's pictureDr Kathleen Rosenblatt

The Wild Nineteen Twenties

Updated: Nov 10, 2023

The Sixties counter culturalists weren't the first to revolt and react to the idiocy of war. Here is the young fearless Mae West who set the wild style. What we call “the Lost Generation” were the writers and artists who survived World War I. This was a generation of Europeans and disillusioned American expatriates in Paris--like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. They felt alienated and disenfranchised after that debacle. They lost all faith in the progress of mankind. The artsy iconoclastic group, the Dadaists in France took their name from a child’s babble--’dada-da.’ They wanted to do anything shocking and subversive.

This post war era saw a powerful burst of music that created a huge shift in culture. The Jazz Age of the Roaring Twenties was powered by the flowering of Black music and dances that fascinated the public at large. By 1926, the "Black Bottom" was a song and a dance that became a national craze. The lyrics were expressive:

“They say that when that river bottom covered with ooze, start in to squirm, couples dance and that’s the movement they use, just like a worm. ‘Black Bottom.”’

Young people latched on to its revolutionary rhythms. We saw how these rhythms flowed into the swing era, country music, pop, R & B, and finally rock’n’roll. The endless fusion and mutations of musical styles was already happening in the early years of the 20th century. And continues today!

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