[Ads-l] Jazz Girls, 1915?

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Tue Oct 27 12:41:31 UTC 2015


On Tue, Oct 27, 2015 at 8:18 AM, Amy West wrote:
>
> Ben Zimmer wrote:
> > On Mon, Oct 26, 2015 at 1:18 PM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
> >>
> >> As a title, "Jazz Girls" may imply no more than that jazz-loving women were
> >> more likely to - well, you know.
> > Yes, like "jazz babies," those female jazz enthusiasts who the OED
> > informs us were "frequently regarded as somewhat dissolute"! (The
> > titular "jazz baby" of the 1919 song wanted to be "jazzing all the
> > time.")
> >
> Because I do vintage dance, I'm beginning to wonder if the social dance
> of the period is the "missing link", if you will, between the sex and
> music senses of "jazz". With Ragtime and 20s there is a big shift in dance:
>
> 1) the dances shift from mostly contra to mostly paired
>
> and
>
> 2) the paired dances "bubble up" (if you will) from the dance halls (as
> opposed to trickling down from formal balls), and there are taxi
> dances/dancers (rent a dance partner)
>
> and
>
> 3) tango, which is just an overtly sexy dance
>
> So, I'm thinking that folks working on "jazz" might be wanting to talk
> to some dance historians and see what they've found for instances of
> "jazz" in the historical dance materials . . .

Thanks, Amy. I learned some fascinating bits of jazz/dance history
when I was researching "heebie-jeebies" for a recent Lexicon Valley
episode:

http://www.vocabulary.com/articles/wordroutes/how-did-we-get-the-heebie-jeebies/

My (admittedly anecdotal) impression is that the link between sex and
new "hot" dance styles associated with jazz really hit the public
consciousness with the Charleston, starting in 1923 and peaking a few
years later (when the "heebie-jeebies" and other dances were also
taking off). But of course the roots would go back way before that.

--bgz

------------------------------------------------------------
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org


More information about the Ads-l mailing list