Slumming: Sexual and Racial Encounters in American Nightlife, 1885-1940

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In this fascinating history, Chad Heap reveals that the reality of slumming was far more widespread-and important-than nostalgia-tinged recollections would lead us to believe. From its appearance as a "fashinoable dissipation"centered on the immigrant and working-class districts of 1880s New York through its spread to Chicago and into the 1930s nightspots frequented by lesblans and gay men, Slumming charts the development of this popular pastime, demonstrating how its moralizing origins were soon outstripped by the artistic, racial, and sexual adventuring that typified Jazz-age America. While Heap acknowledges the role of exploitation and voyeurism in slumming-and recounts the resistance it often provoked-he also argues that the relatively uninhibited mingling it promoted across bounds of race and class helped to dramatically recast the racial and sexual landscape of burgeoning U. S, cities.

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Editorial Reviews

"'Slumming' is the concept of people seeing 'how the other half lives.' Peopl
George Chauncey

“Exhaustively researched and beautifully written, Chad Heap's investigation of slumming as an urban mass phenomenon gives us a vivid and astonishingly detailed account of the black and tans, bohemian tearooms, and pansy and lesbian nightclubs where the cultural boundaries of race and sexuality were crossed, tested, and recast in the early twentieth century.”
John Howard

Slumming is a sophisticated, engaging work of American social and cultural history, an important book that will appeal to a very wide scholarly and popular audience. It is well-written, carefully crafted and structured, with a powerful set of arguments sure to reorient our understandings of sexuality, race, leisure, nightlife, urban geography, and modernity. Heap's assertions are bold, his anyalysis subtle and convincing—and on top of that, Slumming is a really good read, lively and satisfying.”

New Yorker

“[An] enthralling history. . . . assiduously parsed, perhaps to mitigate the inherent titillation of the material.”
American Historical Review

 “This is a beautiful book that will be a milestone in our understandings of sexuality, race, normalcy, and metropolitan American modernity.”
"'Slumming' is the concept of people seeing 'how the other half lives.' People went slumming either as an academic pursuit or with prurient interests, or both. Beginning in the 1880s with white males visiting prostitutes or gamblers in the working-class and immigrant neighborhoods in New York's Harlem and Chicago's Bronzeville, slumming extended to middle-class whites visiting these areas, usually in the company of a police officer, as a new form of recreation spurred by curiosity and desire. Heap sees four phases of slumming in this fascinating, readable, but hardly titillating history. The red light phase ran from the 1880s to WW I, which overlapped the bohemian phase during the 1910s and 1920s. The Negro phase, perhaps the best known in popular imagery, ran through the 1920s and 1930s, overlapping and succeeded by the pansy/lesbian phase, which continued through the 1940s. Throughout, Heap highlights his monograph with detailed accounts of black and tan cabarets, tearooms, and rent parties that broadened the perspectives of both visitors and residents. . . . Recommended. All levels/libraries."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226322445
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 10/30/2010
  • Series: Historical Studies of Urban America Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 1,336,008
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Chad Heap is associate professor of American studies at the George Washington University.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations vii

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction 1

Part 1 The Spatial Dynamics of Slumming and the Emergence of Commercial Leisure 15

1 Into the Slums: The Spatial Organization, Cultural Geography, and Regulation of a New Urban Pastime 17

2 Beyond the Slums: Commercial Leisure and the Reorganization and Policing of Urban Space 55

part 2 The Changing Conceptualization of Sexuality and Race in the Slumming Vogues of Chicago and New York 99

3 Adventures in the Slums and Red-Light Districts 101

4 The Search for Bohemian Thrillage 154

5 The Negro Vogue: Excursions into a "Mysterious Dark World" 189

6 The Pansy and Lesbian Craze in White and Black 231

Epilogue 277

Notes 287

List of Abbreviations in Notes 391

Index 395

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